Morgan was sitting in her room at the castle meditating. Puck had taught her that meditation would help her stay focused on her powers. She had made great progress in just a few short days. Morgan wasn't the only one learning things through meditation. Ariana was learning to levitate and still go about everyday activities.
Morgan came out of her meditative state and wondered if she should ask Puck to conduct his exercise. She had told Ruth that Puck wanted to cast another spell on her. Ruth openly opposed the idea.
Ruth stood at the foot of the bed, a severe look on her deathly pale face. "You are going to ask the trickster, aren't you?" she said, clearly unhappy.
"If it helps with my training," said Morgan.
Ruth snorted. "I do not like the idea of fraternizing with fey," she said. Morgan stared at her. "What?"
"You used to say 'with sorcerers'," said Morgan. "Have you finally warmed to Ariana?"
"You are jejune, Morgan," said Ruth.
"And you are not," stated Morgan. "I know you do this out of protection. But how am I suppose to mature without learning for myself?"
Ruth pressed her lips together. She waved her hand. "Do as you please," she said, turning away. "Summon me if you must." Ruth faded away.
Morgan got up and went to find Puck.
Puck was just finishing up teaching Alexander his nightly lesson. Morgan waited until he was finished before knocking on the door.
"Morgan, dear," he grinned.
Morgan didn't like it when he called her that, or when he grinned at her like that either. It always made her think that he was going to do something horrible to her. Ruth had constantly warned Morgan about a trickster's mercurial nature.
"What can I do for you?" he said, coming out into the hall and closing the door behind him.
Morgan managed to get her words out the first time she tried. "You said that there was a training exercise for my powers. Is now a bad time to do it?"
Puck's grin widened. "Not at all," he replied. "Let me get a few things set up." His grin widened into something wolfish. "Ruth is okay with this?"
"No," replied Morgan, hanging her head. She looked into Puck's icy eyes, her own brown ones blazing with determination. "But I need to do this. I have to learn. I have to stand on my own two feet."
"Good," said Puck. "That's exactly what I wanted to hear."
"You're not as naive as Ruth likes to think," said Puck. "You've proved that when you defeated the demon on your own. You have the knowledge. It's all a matter of applying it."
Morgan was surprised.
Puck chuckled lightly. "Meet me in the dungeon. We'll conduct the exercise down there." Puck vanished.
Morgan made her way to the dungeon. What was Puck up to? He had no reason to hurt her, but she was still wary of him.
Puck had everything set up in the dungeon. Morgan looked at what he did. She tilted her head curiously at the small table with an incense burner and a divan with several pillows.
Puck turned to her. "Come here." He motioned to her. "I'm not going to bite."
Morgan walked over to the trickster. Puck put his hand out to her and Morgan took it. He sat her on the divan.
"Relax," Puck gently commanded. He lit the incense. "I know you have questions, one of them being why we are doing this down here. The answer: we won't be disturbed. Now, lie down."
Morgan hesitantly did what she was told, adjusting the pillows so she was comfortable. The scent of the incense was making her feel a bit lightheaded. Puck floated above her, his white hair close enough to brush against her face. As he hovered, Puck explained what was going to happen.
"The point of this exercise is to strengthen your will," said Puck. "I am going to cast a spell to lock you inside your own mind. Don't worry, you will not be in any danger," he assured when Morgan opened her mouth to protest. "I will be able to keep track of you. If it gets to be too much for you, I will pull you out, but you're going to want to push yourself as far as you can."
"This is to see if I can focus my power?" asked Morgan.
"In a way," said Puck. "It's more about you remaining focused on a goal. Your goal is to separate your spirit from your body. My spell is going to create a labyrinth to prevent you from doing so. Find the end and you can separate yourself."
"Will I have my powers or are you going to take them away?" asked Morgan.
Puck's eyes glittered. "You'll find out in a minute," he answered. "Now, you need to relax. It'll be easier on both of us if you do. This may feel a little odd."
Morgan relaxed the best she could, making sure she was comfortable. She had a feeling she was going to be lying here for a while.
Puck placed a small hand on her shoulder. "Ready?" he asked.
Morgan took a steadying breath and nodded.
Puck nodded back. "Do you want to close your eyes? It may go more smoothly for you."
"No," replied Morgan. "I want to see it coming."
"All right." Puck clapped his hands together. "Thy mind is something of a mystery, so allow us to delve into its history. Fair Morgan, though your nature be meek, have courage to find the answers you seek."
Puck's eyes flashed green and he placed his hands on her breastbone and brow. The magic pulled Morgan's conscious mind into her subconscious. She felt herself falling.
When she came to, she was face down on the stone floor of the dungeon. Morgan got to her knees and was just about to chide Puck for pushing her off the divan when she realized that there was no one around. There was no divan, no table with an incense burner, no Puck. It was empty.
Morgan looked around. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. She got to her feet and walked up the steps to the door. She pushed it open and. . .
She was in her old house.
Morgan frowned. This was the house she grew up in. There were so many bad memories here, so many she did not want to think about.
"Thy mind is something of a mystery, so allow us to delve into its history."
Morgan was going to see all these bad memories whether she wanted to or not. Had Puck done this to learn about her past? If he was, he had a tricky, sadistic way of doing it. She remembered him saying that he had a way of keeping track of her so she wasn't in any danger.
Morgan took a deep breath and walked the hall that led to the stairs. There was a mirror hanging on the wall. Morgan caught her reflection and almost screamed. It was her reflection, all right, just many years younger. Her hair looked like someone stuck a bowl on her head and cut any hair that stuck out underneath it. She had on a flower dress and dress shoes. She remembered this outfit because she only wore it once. It was her first day of school.
The scene shifted slightly. Now Morgan was in her living room in the afternoon. She had just come from her first day at school. Her father was on the sofa and her mother was in the kitchen.
Morgan wasn't sure if she wanted to move her feet. She knew as soon as she began to walk to her room what was going to happen. But this had already happened. There was no way to change it.
Morgan took two steps forward.
"Don't leave your trash laying around!" shouted her father.
Morgan flinched and turned around. A piece of paper cut in the shape of a school bus had fallen off her backpack. It had been pinned on with a safety pin so she wouldn't lose it.
Her mother came in and picked it up. She gave Morgan a stern look. "This is your bus schedule. How are you supposed to know where you're to go if you forget?"
Morgan walked over and took the paper from her mother. Her mother slapped her alongside the head.
"And don't lose it again!" she yelled. She turned back and went into the kitchen.
Oddly enough, the blow did not hurt as much as Morgan remembered it hurting. Could it be part of the spell? Had Puck put a safeguard in place in case any of her memories brought her physical pain?
The scene shifted again. This time, Morgan was in her room. She was ten years old now. She was sitting on her bed, her father berating her over something she did not understand and she thought she had done something very wrong. Now that she was older, she understood she had done nothing wrong and that her father was just having a temper tantrum. After several moments of fear on Morgan's part, her father left. Then her mother started in on her, calling her stupid and variety of other names.
After getting yelled at, Morgan climbed into bed. She couldn't sleep. This was the first night she couldn't sleep because of her powers. She didn't even know about them at the time. Morgan kept hearing things, feeling things move even though they were in another room. Now and then she would see an image.
Morgan heard someone coming up the stairs. She hid under her bed and listened. Her door did not open, but there were a pair of boots by the side of her bed.
Ruth, thought Morgan. This is the first night my powers kept me awake and the day I met Ruth.
Ruth looked under the bed and smiled. "Hello, little one," she said. "What are you doing under there?"
Morgan climbed out from under her bed.
There has to be something more than this, thought Morgan. Puck can't just be showing my memories to me and expect me to learn something from them.
The scene shifted once more. This time, Morgan was in the bathroom with a razor blade in her hand. Her sleeve was rolled up to show unscarred skin. The day she began cutting.
"Not this," said Morgan.
She threw the razor blade down. The scene wavered. She realized she didn't have to live out the memories. If she could fight and find the end, she could get out. That was the point of the exercise. She didn't need to endure the memories, she had to fight against them. If she fought, she would find her way out.
The razor flew up and tried to cut Morgan's arm. She jumped and got out of the way as it came around again and tried to cut her. The mirror in the bathroom shattered, shards of glass going after her, trying to cut her arms. Morgan desperately tried to protect herself, but the sharp edges cut her arms, giving her the scars she did not want.
The scene changed. It was the day Morgan ran away from home. She was on the subway. Ruth was always nearby and Morgan could feel her presence as she rode. The only difference was that this was a memory and Ruth was not really with her. The ghost of the ghost felt empty.
Focus, Morgan, she told herself.
Morgan felt her power build up inside her. The subway car felt like it was crushing her. Her power suddenly burst and the scene changed. It was now the day she met Ariana.
Morgan shook her head. She had to keep her concentration. Her power built up once more and she tried to pull herself out of her body. She felt herself trying to get free, but the memories weighed her down. The scenes changed more rapidly now. It went from the day she met Ariana to the day the moved in together to the day the confided each others powers to the day Ariana learned Morgan was cutting and so on.
Morgan finally gave it all she had. Everything went black and she felt herself being propelled out of her body. She opened her eyes to find herself hovering high above her body. Puck was looking up at her with a smile.
"Good job," said Puck.
"Thank you," moaned Morgan. She hurried back to her body and settled down. She opened her eyes and blinked wearily. "That's it, right?"
"That's it," said Puck. "Now go to sleep."
Morgan did not need to be told twice.