Chapter 38: Strangers

The elf wiped away another tear. She shook her golden-topped head, trying to shake away all those negative thoughts that threatened to swarm again.

A movement from the trees darted along the corner of Aliriya’s eyes. The sharp blue crystals narrowed and focused in on the hidden object. Suddenly, Erulastiel’s head darted round a tree, guiltily. The next second, it was gone again, but Aliryia had seen enough to know what it was that she had glimpsed.

“Erulastiel,” she called, “Have you been watching me?”

She tried to keep the notes of annoyance out her voice, but it was hard, especially as Aliryia felt at her most vulnerable again.

“Um…no, actually, I haven’t… I thought I’d dropped…something, so I had to go back for it. You must have missed me turning, especially if you were at the back of the group.”

Although she was acting rather awkwardly, Aliryia had little doubt that Eru was telling most of the truth and had, in fact, gone back.

“Are you okay?” Eru’s eyes bore into the top of Aliryia’s head as she pushed herself off the entrance-porch.

“Of course, sister. Why wouldn’t I be?”

Aliryia tried a smile but felt that it was weak and coming out all wrong.

She was just too tired to try anything stronger.

“I’ve just got a headache arriving, that’s all.”

Well, now they were both equal, were both lying.

Shouts from the lawn brought both of their stares to a different place.

Alkrya had tackled a strange man to the ground; he struggled but his movements soon came to a halt when he realised that he couldn’t move under the assortment of vibrant, snarling fire. She gnashed her teeth, and the scales that patterned her arms seemed to glint even more feverously in the afternoon sun. Aliryia felt the depth of the sun’s heat from far away, bearing down on her, but she willed her body against the weakness she starting to feel.

It was a tricky discipline.

Aliryia heard Eru’s gasp from beside her, and the girl ran to pull Alkrya away- although the former probably wanted a piece of the man herself. It was no use; Alkrya was too strong and determined, full of her ultimate ‘lizard-power’.

“Aliryia…” Eru stood back and gestured quickly, but Aliryia could do nothing but stand in her place, dizzy. She vaguely felt Maine's presence and heard her voice beside Alkrya.

Maine was anxious, and not just about earlier. She was right; there was something else- someone else here. As Aliryia gazed towards the trees, the heat got to her and her vision blurred as a shape weaved in and out. She shook her head to clear it, wondering if the figure had just been her imagination. It certainly wasn’t there now.

She turned back to the argument on the floor. Maine moved down too, but she was certainly doing nothing to help the man.

“Stop!” a voice commanded out of nowhere, “I know that man!”

Out of compulsion, Aliryia spun on her heels; Eru followed suit, and even Alkrya stopped her floor-interrogation of the unknown man to look up.

There before them stood a strange new girl.

The End

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