Chapter 1

A New Adventure Into the World of Witches

Today was the day. School was beginning, for the very first time. And after all this time, painstakingly waiting with a gray cloud over her head, the first day of the first semester of Black Magic Academy was starting tomorrow.

Mushroom couldn’t help feeling this way, though she was super, SUPER nervous.

Some time passed the day before school, and Mushroom fed her cat, took care of her little sister, ate dinner and packed up her bags and books to use tomorrow. She told her grandmother that she’d be going to bed, and it was pretty early when she said this . . . as expected.  Her grandmother and caretaker, Plum, had noticed Mushroom seemed rather eager to finish up and go to bed.

Mushroom’s parents, two very advanced witches, were gone far away in another region. They still communicated with Mushroom and the old Plum, mainly with letters and packages with small gifts every so often. Mushroom would receive things in the mail like fruit, small plants, books, pens, and stationery . . . nothing too big, thankfully. Their house was really small and it would be hard to store big packages.  Mushroom’s parents were named Ivy and Reed, two older women who had been studying at a magical university for a very long time. Mushroom had fond memories of her parents, who were very sweet and kind but also very busy. They’d be rushing around, doing work and the like most of the time, but when they spent time with Mushroom . . . those were some of the happiest times in her life. They’d go apple picking in the forest, and as a little child, Mushroom could never catch the apples as Ivy waved her carved wooden-stick wand and magically caused the apples to come crashing to the ground. Mushroom would only catch a small amount of apples (about five or six), but Ivy and Reed would just laugh and praise Mushroom for doing a good job.  They’d take the apples home and leave the fallen apples for the forest animals to eat.

Sometimes Ivy would knit at night and Mushroom would watch her, fascinated by the detailed woven work and the mixing of colors.  The yarn fibers would make beautiful gradients, like a warm yellow and vibrant orange evening sunset, or a minty-blue and lime-green underwater marine landscape.  Ivy would actually knit with magic, so the process of moving the needles would be done by lifting her fingers. The knitting needles would float in the air and join the yarn together perfectly, the wooden knitting needles clacking together quietly . . . such a nostalgic sound.

But Mushroom’s life with Plum was also very pleasant after her parents went far away.  Plum was a very gentle woman, and very kindhearted. She never had anything judgmental to say. And Mushroom really appreciated that.

Ivy and Reed had given Mushroom many goodbyes, and had promised to send letters and things in the mail whenever possible. Mushroom also appreciated her parents’ ability to send her letters even though they were very busy.

The letters were important to Mushroom, for they reminded her of her times and adventures with her parents, so she kept them in a small file cabinet under her desk. And it just so happened that the file cabinet could fit hundreds of letters— it was really great!

Mushroom knew tomorrow was the day she was finally going to learn some magical abilities. As she lay in bed with her crescent moon-dotted pajamas, she still felt nervous, but somewhat excited as well.  It was going to be great! She was going to learn all sorts of thing, like how to make soup, and how to grow and harvest magical plants, and how to make potions, and how to command mighty spells with the tips of her fingers or her wand . . . the list goes on. She was thinking a lot about those things, the abilities she would learn and the ways she could do new things, until her mind slowly settled down and told her to drift off to sleep.

She slept peacefully during the night, and she had some pretty crazy dreams. It was like the day before a holiday and she would be dreaming so excitedly about what the holiday would be like, and what they would do.

The deep sky paled and slowly transitioned to a soft periwinkle blue . . . a couple crows squawked loudly from outside . . . Mushroom slowly opened her eyes.

Her eyes felt bleak and crusty. This happened to her in the morning after a long sleep, when her mind would be dancing and jumping around but her body would be flat as a board.

She sat up and yawned and stretched her legs. “Oh gosh,” she whispered, rubbing her eyes. “Oh gee. I gotta get going.”

Mushroom had a habit of talking to herself. She laughed and squealed in happiness when opening her school uniform from the parcel, and she said repeatedly, “It’s so cool!!!”  (It was a black velvet robe that went up to her ankles and a tall, pointy, black, but very cute-looking witch’s cap. She also had gotten some black snow boots, which would be handy when walking in the cold autumn weather. She was going to wear grey tights so her legs wouldn’t be too cold). She also went on a little tangent about the witch’s cap.

“It looks like the one that Ivy would wear sometimes!  But this one is not as big.”  Mushroom examined the cap, turning it around, checking out how it looked in different angles.  “And it looks like the ones they’d wear in those storybooks my parents used to read to me. But now it’s not a storybook anymore—  I’m finally going to do this!! Ohhh . .  I’m so nervous . . . ahhhhh!”

She popped the hat on her head and secured the ribbon around the collar of the robe a little bit more.  Then she slipped her boots on over her socks and skidded downstairs, yelling and sweating and getting all excited.

“Calm down, Mushroom! You’ve got a long day ahead of you, keep your cool, alrightie?” Plum interjected, as Mushroom was still spluttering out random thoughts and sentences all at once. It was obvious that Mushroom was experiencing a high level of anxiety. “Here, I made you a sandwich for lunch. There’s also a container of milk and a fresh apple.” Plum tried to hand over the brown paper bag to Mushroom, who took it in her sweaty hands and smiled brightly.

“Thank you! Thanks, Grandma! I hope you have a good day! I’ll see you later at home, what time do you want me to come home after the school day’s over?”  Mushroom spoke quickly, still smiling.

“Just come home before ten o’clock rolls around. If you come home five minutes later, a little bit later than that . . . it’s fine. I’m not going to be hard on you. I just don’t want you to roam around when it’s super dark out, that’s all. Have a great day, Mushroom, sweet pea!”  Plum smiled, her crinkly old face scrunching up a tiny bit, little creases under her soft blue eyes.

“Thanks!! Bye!” Mushroom waved a little and skidded out of the door, shutting it behind her.

Plum sighed a little, slightly worried about Mushroom, as any grandparent would be. She tried to reassure herself that Mushroom would be totally fine, and told herself to cheer Mushroom on and believe in her instead of worrying that something would happen.

Mushroom was breathing heavily by the time she arrived on campus, as she was running and walking kind of quickly. She didn’t want to be late!

She took a moment, smiled a bit, and walked into the crowd of students waiting in the middle of campus.

The doors to the building were shut, apparently. She was standing next to an extremely tall girl with pitch-black hair and deep blue eyes. The girl reached her hand up and examined her fingernails for a quick second, as if checking on them to make sure she didn’t have a hangnail or something. Her fingernails were very round and pretty and were painted a pure, pitch black.

Mushroom felt very shy, blushing and looking timidly at the tall girl . . . somewhere inside her, she had a strong urge to say something. She felt very nervous, though.

Like taking a plunge into freezing cold water, Mushroom mustered up her courage and finally managed to say something.

“A-Ah, hi!” she squeaked out in a small voice as she stared a little her, glancing away but still keeping her gaze on the girl. The girl seemed to be slightly older than her.

The tall girl glanced over at Mushroom, a very blank, bleak expression upon her soft face. There were slight grey circles under her eyes.  She looked tired.

“Hi,” she said quietly to Mushroom, who fiddled with her thumbs silently and looked down. “Are you a new student here?”

Mushroom was not expecting a response, certainly not such a genuine response like this!  She was kind of scared that the tall girl would ignore her, as most people had in the past. She suddenly felt very excited, and responded a bit quickly.  “Oh!! Yes, I am a new student!  My name’s Mushroom!  It’s really nice to meet you. What’s your name?”

The girl smiled a bit. Her smile was a little twisted, her lip seemed to curve up in a bit of a smirk, like a sly fox.  “It’s nice to meet you as well. My name’s Wysteria,” she said softly, and reached her hand out to shake Mushroom’s.  Rather shakily, Mushroom shook Wysteria’s hand, blushing a little.  “I’m a third year student here. If you need any help, feel free to ask me.”

“O-Oh! Thank you so much!” Mushroom smiled softly, feeling relieved.  “That’s very kind of you.”

Breaking their conversation, the large wooden doors to the school opened and a woman who seemed to be in about her 60s stepped out, wearing formal witch’s attire and holding a leash attached to a very large beast of some sort.  Mushroom could tell it was some kind of beast because she heard the clunky footsteps, the sound of a tail wagging, and a sound that sounded like heavy breathing and panting coming from the sea of people.  There was a loud yapping sound and some people screamed, and Mushroom’s eyes widened, but then the screaming transitioned to loud laughter . . . so she assumed those were screams of delight and not pain or fear.  “Welcome!”  The woman’s voice could be heard from the far front.

Mushroom craned her neck a little to see what type of beast it was. It was hard to tell from the mass of people all huddled up, but she could faintly see something that appeared to be a dog.  As she waited, and as people’s bodies swayed ever so slightly, and when she took a closer peek, she could see the dog had four heads.  She was kind of startled upon seeing this, for she had never seen a four-headed dog before.  What kind of breed was it? It looked kind of like a Labrador, or maybe a Husky…? But she wasn’t entirely sure. It was making her feel like she had to be more aware of her surroundings . . . (She certainly didn’t want it to come near and attack her! She had to be super careful, and she couldn’t come too close . . . She had to be really cautious now).

“Hah, it’s okay.  It looks kind of ferocious, but it’s actually pretty friendly.”  Wysteria seemed to notice Mushroom becoming a bit cautious, maybe even a little bit nervous or scared. “It won’t attack you, Merida has had it for a very long time with no accidents.  Its name is Turnip.”

“Oh!” Mushroom turned to Wysteria, smiling a little, feeling relieved. “What a nice name.”

“Yeah, apparently it’s a little too cute for something so big and strong looking, but it is kind of a gentle giant, so . . . it’s fitting.” Wysteria responded in a gentle voice.  “You looked kind of scared, so I wanted to reassure you.”

“Ah, thanks, Wysteria!” Mushroom blushed and looked down, rubbing the back of her neck with her hand.

The woman in the front began to speak, her voice was much louder all of a sudden.  All of the chattering voices began to softly fade, and soon everyone was silent.

“Welcome to Black Magic Academy. My name is Merida Moon. I’m a professor here as well as the founder of the school.  It’s wonderful to see so many different faces. It looks like there’s a lot of new students here today.”  The woman, Merida, announced in a strong, loud, clear voice.  “And a lot of familiar faces, too. No matter if it’s your very first year here at the Academy, your second or third, or your final year . . . No matter if you’re a transfer student, an international student, a newcomer, a senior, or anything else—We’re pleased to have you here today on such a fine afternoon. Welcome!”

People began to clap, some people yelled out or cheered.  Presently, the clapping died down.  Mushroom was beginning to feel very excited.  This was it— this was the moment!  She was going to school to be a witch like her family! It was all very exciting.

“Our mission as a school is to mold our students into some of the finest Witches in the world,” Merida went on, her voice elevating, and emphasizing her words with slight movement with her body . . . swiftly pacing and swaying back and forth on the cobblestone ground.   “Being a witch does not always take luck, sheer skill, or special abilities, as people often say. It does certainly have those elements, but deep down, it takes being true to yourself and having a passion for being a Witch deep in your heart and soul.  It takes being dedicated, being honest, being studious, being strong, being caring and compassionate, and loving every minute of your life as a Witch. If you don’t want to be a Witch, if you didn’t have a passion for witchcraft, if you didn’t dream of being a Witch . . . you wouldn’t be here today anyway.  The reason why you are all here today is because your biggest dream is to be Witch of his or her own right.  On that note, our job as staff and professional Witches of our own is to integrate a diverse, rich, plentiful academic— and social— lifestyle to all of our students.  We want you to be the very best you can be.”

Everyone clapped and cheered.  Mushroom was clapping, too, and smiling a little as she was resonating with Merida’s words.

“Academics will be a very important part of your days here at the Academy. However, your work does not wholly depend on your abilities and strengths alone.” Merida continued, smiling at the sea of students below . . . bringing her hands together at her chest and lacing her fingers together.  “Speaking from my heart, we will work with your challenges, embrace your differences, teach you how to improve and flourish with the best of our abilities, and work together as a whole— united with each other.  Academics are a very important part of this Academy, but your social strengths and your companionship with your fellow students are also a very important part of this Academy.  Alas, if you ever find yourself struggling with social and interpersonal skills within the academy, feel free to reach out to me, or any of the staff members here— and please feel free to take part in electives and extracurricular activities. As well as this, if you are struggling, the Social Groups here have been found to be a very good resource.  Register with the Diversity and Disabilities Office prior to fully understand how they can help you.  If you struggle with academics, there are plenty of tutoring options available, as well as a Resource Center you can go to and find a study helper. The Resource Center is on the top floor of the building, and has found to be a very good place to study and expand your knowledge as well as get help with academics. And last but not least, if you’re looking to advance ahead in your studies, you may visit the Library on the third floor to find some excellent literature about the history and lifestyle of Witches. There are books of many topics, ranging from witchcraft to architecture, biology to crafting . . . You can find just about anything there.  When you enter the building, it might seem daunting to find your way around, so please ask somebody if you can’t find your way.  They’ll be pleased to help you.”

Merida stepped aside, and Turnip the four-headed dog followed.  Merida laughed a little and motioned to Turnip. “And this here is Turnip, our very friendly beast.  We bring him here on campus every so often, and no, he is not aggressive, in fact he’s quite tame. Feel free to come and take a closer look at him if you’d like. He is happy with being petted, he loves people. Don’t be scared! But please try to pet his heads one at a time!  And please don’t come all at once, if I may ask!”  People started to file inside the building.  “Yes, you may pet him!”  Merida said to one boy, who seemed to be curious of the beast.

Mushroom turned to Wysteria again. “Wow, Merida is so cool!” she exclaimed. Wysteria laughed.

“Yeah, she is, but she’s also a little strict.  But in a good way. Don’t worry. You’ll get used to her.” Wysteria responded to this, smiling at Mushroom, her lips curving up in that sly, sinister way of hers.

“A-Ahh, okay . . . !” Mushroom laughed a little, too. “I wonder if I have any classes with her…”

“You might . . . first year students sometimes get her for the Magical Plant classes.”

“Magical plants!”  Mushroom gaped excitedly at Wysteria.  “I want to see some of those!”

“Nah, they’re actually pretty common.  You’ll see them all over the place here.”  Wysteria said, looking ahead as they followed the crowd.  “Especially Wisp Flowers, they’re all over the campus.  Nothing new.”

“Ohh . . . ”  Mushroom responded quietly, scratching the side of her head with her finger.  “Of course!  I suppose there’s a lot for me to learn.”

“Mhm.” Wysteria stretched her arms up and yawned a little.  “But you’ll get there.”

A loud barking sound caused Mushroom to turn around.  “Oh, it’s Turnip!” She called out to Wysteria. “Look, Wysteria! It’s Turnip!”

Wysteria turned to Mushroom once more.  “Yup. You can pet him. It’s a little hard to at first, but once you do, it’s worth it— he’s really cute and friendly.” She was now standing a little farther from Mushroom, but not too far.

“Ah!”  Mushroom turned to Merida who was holding Turnip’s leash.  “Oh, hi!  M-May I pet him?”

“Of course you may!” Merida responded in a friendly voice, smiling at Mushroom.

Mushroom smiled a little back at her and looked down at Turnip, blushing pink and a little flustered. Turnip was wagging his tail and each of his heads was panting, the tongues dangling from each mouth. Each of his heads and most of his facial features moved around on their own, though.  Two heads were staring at Mushroom, while another head was kind of distracted, looking at some dragonflies flying past in the distance. The other head was looking down at its paws.

Mushroom gently touched the first head’s ear, rubbing the side of the floppy ear with soft fingers. Turnip barked again, jumping up a little, lifting one of his paws.

“He wants you to take his paw,” Merida said softly.  “That’s a sign that he’s getting to know you.”

“Oh!” Mushroom lowered her hand, and almost immediately, the paw came down on her hand . . . Turnip’s paw was kind of heavy. She shook his paw a little, as if he was a person.

“That’s just right!” Merida said to Mushroom, nodding towards her.  “He likes that.”

“He must be very hot and sweaty on a day like today,” Mushroom stated, looking down with curiosity at Turnip.  “Since it’s so warm out and he’s so furry and fluffy.”

“Yes, that is true.   But it’s very nice and cool inside and he gets lots of water in my office.”  Merida responded, smiling at Mushroom.  Mushroom looked up at her.  She had a very pretty face, soft skin, little freckles and dusty lavender grey eyes.

“Oh, thanks for letting me pet him!  See you later,” Mushroom bowed to Merida, a little clumsily.  Merida laughed and waved to Mushroom.

“You’re welcome!”

Mushroom smiled and waved, and then ran back into the building to try to catch up with Wysteria.

Alex Leeds is a freshman majoring in Cartooning. “I wrote this story because I’m interested in the fantasy genre at the moment. I love making strange, quirky characters, and I love creating different worlds for them to live in. I also like witches a lot, so I added them to my story!” Alex is really enjoying her school year. “I’m excited to continue my education at SVA!”