Nirupa could not utter a single word. She felt like running but the stranger was closer to the door than she was, so she didnít dare.
Ni rose to her feet and took a step towards him. She decided it best to avoid angering the stranger. A gush of scorching flames hit her face with full blast. She paused, then took a deep breath. Dara had told her a smile could melt the most frozen heart. Nirupa she took another brave step forward. Now she was face to face with the stranger. She smiled sweetly and bowed as he had earlier.
"I am Nirupa." she spoke boldly. "I apologize if I have disturbed you. I did not intend to summon you. I was trying to read my Dadís book of shadows. I unintentionally rotated the star inscribed on the book. Then everything happened so quickly." She paused, anxious to see what would happen next.
The stranger watched her, silent. He seemed unsure about whether to believe her. Finally, leaning with both hands against his golden pole, he spoke:
"Then how did you know the secret of the star? Why were you leafing through the book?
"I didnít know it," Nirupa replied. My sleeve caught on the star and pulled it accidentally. I just wanted to read the magic recipes my father has written in the book, but I could understand nothing. The book is full of incomprehensible symbols. I was putting it in every possible position, hoping I might be able to read it.
The Guardian of the Watchtower of the South smiled. It was a frightening smile, like something from the open gate of a furnace full of melted metals. Nirupa trembled with fear, but she showed no sign of surrender. She smiled back at him.
"I believe you," he finally said. "I thought someone wanted to make fun of me, calling me up and showing no respect for the Lord of Fire. I But you are a different matter. I will not harm but help you. If knowledge is all you seek, then you must speak with the Guardian of the Watchtower of the East. He will tell you what you want to know."
"I beg your pardon," Nirupa, no longer fearful, said. But I donít know him. I donít know how to call him up."
"Turn the star to the right just one turn. When the Lord of Air appears, honor him, then present your request to him without fear. And now farewell to you, little girl."
"Thank you," Nirupa hurried to say, but the Guardian didnít wait. He changed into a swirl of fire, which disappeared inside the pentacle instantly.
Nirupa sprawled on the floor, trying to get her breath back. "What a horror. I almost died of fear, Miss Bell."
The pixie came out of Nirupaís hair and went to the girl,
"So far, so good," Nirupa said. "We have fallen into the good grace of the Guardian of the Watchtower of the South. I donít understand what he guards or what the Watchtower of the South is, or why he is made of flames, but Iíd better stop asking questions. It seems we are dealing with powerful magic here."
"Do you think we should summon the other one now? Nirupa sat up. Miss Bell flew around in the air, bombarding Nirupa with words. She was trying to convince her not to deal with the book anymore.
Nirupa nodded. "You are right, but we must finish what we started "
But the pixie became more and more agitated, threatening to enter her flower and leave Nirupa alone.
"If you are so scared, go back home," Nirupa said. "Donít you understand that Iíll never be able to know what is written inside the book unless I rely on help? There must be a secret here, and I want to uncover it. This is my Dadís book and the guardians must know him. It is my chance to learn what happened to him. If you donít feel like staying, you are free to go back home."
The little light remained silent. She finally stretched her hand to Nirupa.
"I knew I could rely on you," Nirupa shook Miss Bellís hand. "You are my best friend. And now," she said. "Letís not lose time."
Nirupa took the book in her hand and turned the star to the right just once following the advice given by the Guardian of the Watchtower of the South. Then she placed the book on her bed and stepped back. It wouldnít hurt for her to take some precautionary measures.
A light breeze disheveled Nirupaís hair. The window was closed, but the breeze continued to blow inside the room. Little by little, the breeze turned into a strong wind that swept into its swirl some unbound sheets of paper, which Nirupa had left on her desk.
The wind was growing stronger and stronger, and Nirupa could hardly stand on her feet. The strong wind was trying to sweep and toss her in the air, so she had to hold on the bed head to avoid flying.
"Miss Bell help me!" Nirupa shouted. Her feet flew in the air as if she were a gymnast on the rings. She tried hard to hold on the iron bed stead but she couldnít. Her hands slid off. The wind swirled the bed into its crazy whirl.
The bed skidded to the middle of the room. Nirupa screamed. She looked up, and saw books, clothes, her writing desk, all in the air, as though a huge magnet was pulling them up. Other objects joined them each second. Soon her entire room was in the air, except for her bed, which hadnít yet surrendered.
At that moment, Miss Bell landed on Nirupaís nose fluttering her thin violet wings against the tempest. Miss Bell grabbed Nirupa from her right wrist a moment before the bed detached from the floor and soared upwards joining the rest of furniture on the ceiling.
The pixie was using all her extraordinary strength to help her friend. As she did her best not to let the crazy tempest gobble up her friend, the wind suddenly calmed down. All the things jigging up in the air fell onto the floor, piling up on each other so quickly Miss Bell and Nirupa barely escaped under the door arch to avoid being hit by the desk.
A new stranger was standing up in front of them, handsome with brown locks of hair waving down to his shoulders. He wore a yellow tunic embroidered with blue. He held a shining sword in his hand.
Nirupa didnít need an introduction to grasp that the man was the Guardian of the Watchtower of the East. She rose to her feet and, bowed to the stranger.
"Welcome Sir," She spoke respectfully. "I am sorry for disturbing you, but I would be so thankful if you could help me."
The Guardian of the Watchtower of the East bowed to her in return.
"I am Raphael 3," he hissed. His voice reminded her of the sound of the rustling leaves. "I am the guardian of the Watchtower of the East. I am the Lord of Air. Sylphs are under my command. I help people find inspiration, and use the power of their mind and wisdom. If, with a pure heart and an open mind, you seek to acquire new knowledge and understand secrets, the Lord of Air will help you; otherwise, if, through your knowledge, you intend to harm and control other people, the revenge of tempest will fiercely strike you.
"Knowledge is all I want," Nirupa hurried to say, "and I donít intend to harm anyone." In the meantime, she was thinking to herself, "What might the Sylphs be?"
The Lord of Air, as though reading her thoughts, replied:
"The Sylphs, little girl, are the spirits of air, be they fairies or other winged creatures I wonder that you donít know the name of that race, when one now stands behind your back. I understand she is a friend to you."
Nirupa saw only Miss Bell who had frozen, not even daring to raise her head to look into her masterís eyes.
"Now I understand everything," Nirupa cried. "Miss Bell, shame on you! You werenít concerned for my safety, only your own. You didnít dare confront your master. You lied to me. Thatís very bad indeed.
"May I take a seat?" Lord Raphael asked, pointing to the upside down bed,
"Of course, yes," Nirupa replied. "I am sorry about the mess, but... "
"It was my fault." Raphael smiled, and a warm breeze beat against Nirupaís face, disheveling her hair. "But I will correct it right away."
The Lord of Air raised his shining sword over his head and cried in a voice resembling the howl of a monsoon:
"Windum fixum momentum."
Instantly a whirl of wind inside the room put every piece of furniture back into its proper place.
"Now letís talk," he said, sitting on the bed. "Bell, like all the other spirits of air, knows a lot of mysteries. She possesses knowledge about many issues important to you humans. But she cannot speak without my permission. She canít uncover the mysteries contained in this book, entrusted to me and my brothers to protect.
Nirupa listened in silence, but she still felt cross at Bell. "Youíll see, Miss Bell, how mean I can be. You betrayed me," Nirupa thought. "Once the Lord of Air leaves, weíll have a talk together."
"If you take revenge on those who love and protect you, you are not ready to unveil the secrets of the book," hissed the guardian of the watchtower of the East, who once again had read her thoughts.
Nirupa crouched, embarrassed. She was now afraid even to think. She didnít know what to say
"I know why you have summoned me," the Lord of Air said. "I know it well. But the moment for you to learn everything has not yet arrived. You show clearly you have just started your journey. Still, I have decided to let you acquire a part of the mysteries. Little girl, choose what you want to learn at this time!"
"Spells," Nirupa said. "I want to read the spellsí recipes contained in the book."
"Are you sure? Lord Raphael arched his eyebrows, "Do you think this is what you need?" She nodded. "I will abide by your wish. I will permit you to read all the spells written in this book and learn from them, but upon one condition: Bell will be your mentor from now on, and you must consult her on everything."
Nirupa had not expected this. To receive advice from sulky Miss Bell seemed too much. Miss Bellís face beamed with happiness. She danced around Nirupa joyfully, and her eyes were not lowered anymore.
"And if you act otherwise," added the Lord of Air who, as always, knew exactly what was going on inside Nirupaís head, "I will deprive you of any right to use the book. It will forever be incomprehensible to you. And now farewell." He changed into a whirl of wind dying away inside the book of shadows.
Nirupa cast a glance at Miss Bell, and the pixie lowered her gaze. Miss Bell pretended to clean the tip of her wing, which was perfectly spotless.
"Well, Miss Bell, I understand that you are now my new mentor. I thought Mom and Lisa, were more than enough, but now I have to cope with you as well."
Miss Bell didnít speak, but stayed focused on her wing. She didnít trust Nirupaís quiet tone.
"Okay, then," Nirupa said. "As you know so many things I donít know, you may help me. But donít ever think of giving me orders. We will be partners, and you must help me with the spell I intend to cast on Jane."
At this point, Miss Bell could not stay quiet. Nirupaís plan was completely contrary to the instructions of the Lord of Air and the duty of the pixie herself. Miss Bell explained she should not take vengeance on anyone because the consequences would be horrible.
"I see your point, Miss Bell," Nirupa said. "But, do you really think that I can harm anyone, even a snake like Jane? She deserves a good lesson, so she will leave me alone. What I intend to do is just to frighten her. Besides, we will have a little fun. Itís meaningless that my parents are magicians if I cannot cast the simplest spell."
Miss Bell hesitated. Her own duty to Nirupa was important but Nirupaís reasoning didnít seem wrong to her either."
Seeing that Miss Bell was nearly convinced, Nirupa said, "Do you think Lord Raphael would give me permission to use the magic of the book if it were dangerous? "
Miss Bell had nothing to say to this. She also felt Jane deserved a good lesson. Moreover, she was very fond of adventures.
Nirupa took the book in her hand and leafed through it. Its pages were full of accurate recipes of spells, but this time Nirupa had no difficulty understanding them. The Guardian of the Watchtower of the East had kept his word.
"Miss Bell, look here," Nirupa screamed joyfully opening the book somewhere in the middle. "... To make someone fall crazily in love with you, in a moonlit night, stay under his window and repeat his name thrice, sucking blood from the fourth finger of your left hand, which you should spit out on the ground. Collect dirt mixed with blood, use it in cooking any kind of sweet and give a piece of it to the beloved one. He will be yours forever ....This is so yucky," Nirupa said. "Just think, eating bread mixed with dirt and blood,. It sounds wacky. What kind of spell is this?" She turned the page and saw the chapter title. ďLove spells" Iíve never understood whatís in love that makes people really nuts. "How can a girl spend all day with only one boy and tell him all her secrets? Boys are fools. Besides, when you are in love you have to send to the boy letters with tiny hearts, inside which you must write your name and his. And then you should tell everybody that you have a sweetheart. And yuckiest of all is that kissing on the lips. Amťlie, my closest friend when we lived in Paris, said she kissed a boy and it wasnít worth doing. How yucky to have the some goyís spit inside your mouth."
Miss Bell guffawed loudly. The laughter put her in such a good mood she began performing cartwheels in air. Light sparkles of all kinds of colors sprinkled out each time she flipped over. Nirupa laughed too. They laughed so hard, they didnít hear the slam of the front gate. Only when the wooden stairs cracked, and Nirupa heard her motherís voice calling her name, did he hear. They both jumped to their feet as if stung by bumblebees.
"Itís mom," Nirupa whispered. "If she sees the book, Iíll be grounded. We need to hide it, Miss Bell. Now!"
She shoved the book under the bed just as Dara entered the room.
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