Dear Reader, I am excited beyond measure and have been since last night, but I am going to do my best to relate everything in the order in which it happened, so as to better preserve the memories for myself and anyone else who would care to hear them told someday.
It is morning now, and Professor Eberhart has classes all day. (Look, I am already starting at the end. Oh, well.) I begged to see him during lunch, but he said that he usually dines with the other faculty in the Dining Hall. (The students eat there, too.) It is suspicious enough, he says, that a young woman and a stranger has been going to his office daily, but if he were to deviate from his routine, for which he is well-known, people would begin to wonder. I asked why it was important to keep this such a secret, but he only said that until we know more about why Belleclaire was taking me to Franklin Bay, and to whom he was taking me, we should be careful and quiet concerning how we carry on. I suppose that makes sense.
He also said that I must not ever use Illumination in the presence of others. He knows Captain Winters and trusts him, so Jack is exempt, but I am not to display my Gift under any circumstances to anyone but Jack Winters and the professor himself, until he says otherwise.
Oh yes, Dear Reader, I have made use of my Gift since last I wrote in this diary! And, more wondrous than that, I have learnt of my family! It is not at all how I thought it was; the story Professer Eberhart told me was very different than what I have believed all my life. I see now, though, why I was told the lie. It was for my own protection, and the protection of those who knew me, for if my true identity was known, I and all my friends would have been in danger. I was even given a different surname, to disguise me further! I am no longer Miss Greenwater, but--
Well, now I am getting ahead of myself again. All right, I shall try and start over.
When I arrived at Professor Eberhart's office last night, I could practically feel my skin tingling, I was so on-edge and excited. At once, I burst out with a dozen questions, none of which, I am sure, made any sort of sense to the professor, as they all tumbled out on top of one another, my words blurring together. (Miss P___ used to say that I sounded like an over-excited chicken when I got worked up about something, and made almost as much sense. I think she was mostly joking, though.)
The professor's silence and stern look was enough to calm me, after the first torrent of words was over, and I sat quietly with my hands in my lap so I would not fidget. Several seconds passed, which seemed like several hours, then at last the professor asked, "How are you feeling tonight, Miss?"
"Confused, sir," I answered. "And... a little frightened."
"Mm, yes. All the information you received last night certainly came as a shock to you. But you are feeling well, after your swoon?"
"Oh, yes, sir. Perfectly well, thank you."
"Good." He nodded, then cleared his throat. "I suppose I first must tell you that your name is not Greenwater." He paused a moment, for me to digest that. I do not think I really did, and in fact, I am still getting used to it. It is so strange to be called one thing all my life, and then suddenly learn that no, I am not that, I am something else. Someone else.
"What... is my name, then?" I asked slowly.
"You are Bernice Gardener," he told me, and paused again so I could get used to the idea. At least I have the same initials, I thought, though really it doesn't matter since I have nothing monogrammed but the handkerchiefs I have done myself.
"Gardener," I repeated softly. "Why was I told my name was Greenwater all this time?" I asked.
It will be easier and make more sense if I here relate all Professor Eberhart told me, without my interruptions and requests for clarification. Now I have had time to think about it and put it together in my mind, and so here it is:
My parents were not John and Mary Greenwater, but George and Alice Gardener. They were deeply involved in the war, though very few knew of it. They were part of a group of spies and underground fighters who infiltrated meetings of the Loyalists (which were what those still loyal to Britannia called themselves) by pretending to oppose independence and support continued relations with and rule by Britannia. My mother and father, apparently, were some of the best, having brought down many many Loyalists. (I am unclear if they themselves arrested--or possibly did away with--these Loyalists, or if they merely reported them to the Amerigonian authorities. I do not think I wish to know just now.)
However, about six months before I was born, a traitor among them betrayed the entire group, who called themselves Libertists, and they were forced to go into hiding. Fleeing the attacking forces of the Loyalists, my parents and their friends made haste into the Falls Lake Forest at the base of Foresight Peak. Traveling by night and sleeping by day, taking turns with watches, they went further and further into the forest, until they began to climb the mountain. Fortune favoured them, for one night they found a crevasse not far up the side of the mountain, which widened into a cave large enough to house them all. They numbered about fifty at the time (six having been picked off by the pursuing Loyalists throughout the previous days). However, once they were safe inside the mountain, the Loyalists caught up to them and trapped them within it, laying siege. The Loyalists were kept at a distance by the use of the Libertists' men's rifles, but they knew they could not stay there forever.
Four days they were trapped in that cave, and four days they spent searching the various branches of the cave, more massive than they had first thought, for an alternate way out. If even a few of them could escape, they knew, they could reach friends in the nearby town of Smithsfield who would come to their rescue. But after four days they had run out of food (and unable to hunt or forage for more), and were losing hope. Deep within the cave was a spring, which thankfully provided them with fresh drinking water, but they knew they could not survive much longer without any other sustenance.
But at the source of the spring, deep inside the mountain, lay certain crystals. Sacred Crystals, the likes of which have not been seen for over two centuries. They knew not how they came to be there or who put them there, but when the Libertists realized what they were, they made a pact to Illuminate themselves with the Crystals in order to escape the cave and defeat the Loyalists, and from then on they would hide the Crystals and their Gift unless there was dire need for either or both.
And so the Loyalists were defeated and my parents and their comrades escaped unharmed and went back into the world to win the war, bit by bit, sometimes using their Gifts and sometimes not.
Things are usually darkest before the dawn, as Miss P___ would say, and only months before the war was truly won, my parents were in great danger and fled across the country under assumed names, trying to save themselves and their infant daughter--me. And, said Professor Eberhart, since my mother was with child at the time she took the Illumination into herself, I was born with that same Gift.
Almost more shocking than all of this was the true tale of my parents' death. They did not perish in the crash of the dirigible the Defender's Pride, as I have believed all these years, but were murdered brutally in their home by a branch of Loyalists on the west coast, where I was raised and where they thought they would be safe. To this day, it is not known how the Loyalists found them, but the following morning the neighbours (for my parents lived in a small flat in a rickety tenement house) finally called the police, after hearing a baby--me--squall for hours on end. Miraculously, a pair of Libertists arrived before the law did (and were, themselves, police officers), so they were able to smuggle me away and invent a new name and a new story for the death of my parents when I was brought to Saint Anne's. To give credence to the story, one of the men took my mother's locket and burned it on one side, so it would appear to have been singed in a great fire. The Pride having crashed outside of town just that morning, they were provided with a good cover story.
Whomever had ordered my family killed, Professor Eberhart said, was surely furious to learn that the infant child of the Gardeners had been left alive. Bless the bumbling fools who could not find it in their hearts to murder a baby, even if they were wicked Loyalists! But that is why a new name and a new story was invented for me; if the Loyalists had been able to find me, knowing I was Illuminated, they would surely have killed me to save themselves the trouble later, or, worse, kept me for their own purposes, raising me amongst lies until I was old enough and strong enough with my Gift to advance their agenda.
But it is too late now! For I am alive, and the professor says I am to help with some new great struggle between Amerigo and Britannia! He did not go into details, saying he had given me enough information for the day, but said he would explain all soon enough. Until then, I am to practice with my Gift in private and under his supervision, to prepare myself for what I think could be another war!
After all of this was told to me, the professor again brought out the paperweight and ordered me to move it. I struggled for some time, but still could not, to my great anger and frustration.
"How did you move it last night?" he asked me. We were, as before, standing on opposite sides of his great desk.
"I don't know!" I cried, trying hard not to pull my hair out from vexation. "I only thought about it, and it happened! But I have not been able to do so since."
"What were you thinking about, when you moved it?" he pressed. "Did you call on some memory, some feeling?"
I thought for a moment, trying to remember. "I... I recalled the fear I felt when you first threw the object at me," I said slowly, working it out as I spoke. "I made myself feel the same shock and... terror... as I did when I saw the cube hurling through the air toward my face."
"Recall that fear once more," the professor urged. "Feel the tenseness of your muscles, the leap of your heart. Convince yourself that your very safety depends on you moving the cube."
It took several minutes, but at last the paperweight slid across the desk first one way, then the other. I looked up at him, beaming, and he nodded somberly. I suppose that is all the more excited he gets about anything, but it seemed high praise to me. "Very good," was all he said. "Again."
We worked for another half an hour, then he sent me back to my room to rest, for I was exhausted after all the strain. I am to return this evening for more practice moving things with my thoughts, and if I am doing well with that, Professor Eberhart said we would progress to other things.
The morning has gone and it is now early afternoon. I shall here conclude for the day, and take a stroll on the grounds to refresh myself.