We were laughing, heading for the dining hall after classes when I felt the telltale burning in the back of my mind. With a jarring shock, I realised I hadn't released the pent up magic recently, the build up that occurred roughly once a month and had to be released. I gasped, leaning against the wall, one hand on my chest, trying to breathe evenly, force it back a little, enough to excuse myself and run for the forest. Holly and Natalie looked back at me, their carefree expressions immediately turning to concern.
"Shad, what's wrong?" Holly asked. Natalie rushed to my side, wand at the ready. I shook my head, swallowing hard. They couldn't follow me, it was too dangerous. Summoning up every scrap of energy and concentration I could muster, I turned tail and sprinted out into the grounds.
I reached an unnatural clearing deep inside the forest. The trees had been stripped of their leaves, their branches broken and splintered, the trunks and ground blackened by the force of my magic. Once a month, I came here. Once a month, every month. I collapsed in the centre of the clearing, trying to stay lucid enough to control the direction of the magical flow.
"Shadow, tell us what's happening!" Natalie's voice made it to my ears through the rushing sound of magic.
"Stay back!" I yelled out in warning. The fire in my muscles was starting to blaze. I couldn't keep it in much longer.
"Just tell us, you silly little person or I will bug you for eternity!" Holly shouted.
I didn't have time to say anything more. Magic poured out of my entire body, blasting the clearing with another wave of magic. I could avoid having to do this, but I didn't want to. By being at school, in such a social environment, I exposed myself, my power of empathy, to high levels of teenage emotions. I also allowed my own emotional levels to become uncontrollable as well. This, as always, led to dangerous build ups of magic. Magic that had to escape somehow.
I don't know how long it lasted. I never do. I tried to time it once, but my magic fried the stopwatch. All I can say is, at least I didn't scream this time. Instead, I realised a little too late that this time, I was going to be hit by what some humans termed as 'a double whammy'. Night had fallen, and the moon was nowhere to be seen. I felt the shivers run through my body. Glancing down at my hand confirmed my suspicions. No claws. I was human again for three days and three nights. Whoopee. I slowly got to my feet, staggering, grabbing onto a tree to steady myself. Of course, human meant a lot weaker. Even in demonic form, a power surge left me tired and out of action for a day or two. I felt a hand touch my shoulder.
"What was that?" Natalie asked quietly, locking gazes with me, trying to find an answer in my eyes.
"Yo, Shad, dude! What happened to you?!" Exclaimed Holly, barging in on Natalie's quiet concern in true Holly fashion. I shook my head at her. Natalie, thankfully more subtle than the other third of our trio, shushed the girl with a silencing charm. Taking a deep breath, I focused on putting one foot in front of the other in order to get back to my room. Natalie let me go on ahead for a few moments before following. I silently thanked her. I was going to get grilled for this later, but in the immediate aftermath, Natalie was willing to let it go. It was going to hurt so much to have to lose her when I eventually moved on from here.
I found Jamie waiting for me in my room when I opened the door. I sighed heavily at the sight of his confused expression. Yeah, I know, I looked human for the moment, but he didn't have to stare. I headed for the tiny en-suite attached to my room, intending to melt into a puddle at the bottom of the shower for a while.
"Go away, Jamie, I'm really not in the mood," I sighed irritably, knowing how scratchy my voice probably sounded. It certainly felt raw. Jamie let out a long humph of frustration.
"Well, I've got a letter here for you. Come and find me tomorrow to talk about it."
"You read my post?" I said, narrowing my eyes. "Isn't that some sort of big human no-no?"
"We're not human, Shad. Good night," Jamie said, winking as he left the room.
I sat with my back against the wall, scalding hot water cascading down on my head, trying to wash away the residual ache. With a deep sigh, I stood up, turning my face to the spray and washing the last remnants of shampoo from my hair before shutting off the water. Dressed in the baggy trousers and tank top that constituted my pyjamas, I wandered towards my beck, sleepily plaiting my hair. Grabbing the envelope Jamie had left, I curled up on my bed under my favourite purple blanket. I cursed the absent moon for my current inability to catch a scent off the envelope to determine who it might be from. I pulled out two pieces of paper, one a page that looked to have been ripped out of a fairly old book, the other, a scrap torn from the bottom of a notepad. The scrap read:You are in danger. He's coming. Watch your back. –A
I sat back, trying to think about who 'A' could be, and why they would want to warn me about being in danger. I didn't recognise the spiky script from any of my classmates, nor Jamie, Holly or Natalie. I picked up the other piece of paper to see some sort of poem written there:
On the twelfth moon of the Aquarius Summon
The demon will be strong
The demon shall be summoned by the Messenger angel
Three beating hearts become many
The demon may be vanquished
Through the beating of a lovers heart
And He shall lose his power to their centres
On the sixteenth moon of the Aquarius summon
Two girls shall be born
One a Halfling wolf, one a Halfling lycorn
By the third moon of their birth
The magic shall rise
And so the prophecy shall begin.
On the night of her 360th moon
Wolf and demon shall lock in mortal fight
Only the victor shall prove to lead the darkness
Neither heart will continue to beat
If the One is present, one shall live
Through the mourning tears
After the passing of a single moon
The silver blood drinker shall cry to the skies
And the light of the world shall fail
The girl of green eyes will be lost to the void.
One line of the poem had been heavily scribbled out in blue biro. I didn't have to wrack my brains too hard to discover the culprit. I sighed heavily, rolling over on my side. I was tired, exhausted, but the poem had stirred something in my mind, reminded me of something from so long ago. I just couldn't remember what. Little did I know that this was the beginning of the fall. I slumped back against the pillow, too tired to think anymore. I closed my eyes, praying that my vulnerable period would pass faster than it sounded.
Jamie was waiting for me at breakfast the next morning. I silently glared at him, grabbing some food and sitting far away from him. Unfortunately, he followed me. I bit into my apple, a fruit I could only really enjoy during my non demonic time since my fangs usually got in the way.
"Is there some part of being a jerk that means you ignore perfectly clear body language?" I asked icily.
"Hey, hate the game, not the player," Jamie retorted. "I'm just trying to protect you, Shad."
"Funny way of doing it," I muttered. Holly ran over to us in her usual hurricane mode, sitting next to me and immediately tearing into a bowl of cereal that was so full of sugar it made my teeth ache in sympathy. Natalie followed in a somewhat more sedate style with a bowl of cornflakes. Jamie cast me a look that clearly stated that we would talk later. I glared back.
Three days and three nights later, I sat up a tree on the edge of the forest, waiting impatiently for night to fall again. I hated being trapped as a human, and this one had definitely outlasted its novelty period. At least I had evaded Natalie's questions. Holly had teased me for the first two days, but I think she was as confused as Natalie. I leant my head back against the tree trunk, watching the sky. Something crashed further in the trees.
"Hey, Shadster! Whatcha doin' all the way up there?" Holly's voice echoed up through the branches.
"Shad, we really need to talk, you've been avoiding me for three days!" Natalie's plaintive call wasn't far behind. I gritted my teeth, trying to listen, but all I could hear was Holly and Natalie below me.
"Shush," I hissed, glaring down at the pair.
"Hello you lot, what're you all up to now?" Jamie said, sauntering casually across the grounds towards us. I rolled my eyes. Just what I needed. Another nosy part demon. I didn't know if he had made the name connections, but I sure didn't want him to meet 'dearest Daddy'. Then again, he said that his father was the anthropomorphic personification of War. Maybe he knew what it was like to have the evil paternal figure.
"Trying to get a couple of answers off Shad, you know how hard that is when she doesn't want to talk."
"Maybe I can help you then," Jamie smirked.
"Don't you dare," I threatened.
"Really? Ok, why has she been all weird for the last few days?"
"Vulnerable period, her breed of part has them. Turns their physical over to their primary half."
"Earth speak, please, Jammesson?" Holly interrupted.
I could almost see the evil grin growing on Jamie's face. "She hasn't told you? She's a half demon."
There was silence for a moment before Holly broke it. "Whadda ya mean, she's a half demon? OHMYGOD! That means she's just like you! When's the wedding?! When are the children gonna come?!"
"Shut it, Holly," I growled, dropping down from the tree. A bolt of magic slammed into my back, sending me to the ground. I glanced behind me. What I saw made my blood run cold. The black hair, the ragged cut off trousers, the red eyes. Karthragan. How did he track me here? He wasn't supposed to be able to track me here! Frozen by panic, I couldn't move. All I could do was pray that I smelled different in human form. There was no way I'd be able to take him on in this state. I yelled at the others to run, scrambling to my feet, trying to get to the school. I had to get to a teacher, to warn everyone. A blast of magic caught me off balance, sending me crashing to the ground. Karthragan grabbed me by the hair, wrenching me backwards. I thought my spine would crack under the pressure. Somewhere to the side came the sound of a battle cry. The pressure on my spine vanished. Flipping over, I spotted a violet-haired girl with a huge sword dodging bolts of magic.
"Get the humans inside, Shadow!" She yelled. I remembered that voice. She had sent me back from Synairn!
"But who..." I started to ask before she repeated her orders. Deciding that this was one woman I shouldn't mess with, I grabbed Holly, running for the main building of the Academy. Natalie came running out of the front door, wand at the ready. The sun finally set. The shivers ran through my body as the warmth of magic coursed through my blood once more. Thrusting Holly to Natalie, I ran back out to where the fight between Karthragan and the strange girl had reached magical levels. The girl was limping slightly. Yelling a few choice words of my own, I joined the fray.
"Get out of here, Shadow!"
"I can help!" The momentary distraction allowed Karthragan to land a punch on me. I gasped, frozen to the spot. His hand had gone through me, lodged in my stomach without leaving a mark. I could feel it. A brief flash of surprise flitted across his face before a smirk twisted his cruel features. He pulled his hand away, letting me crumple to the ground. He raised his sword, intending to deal the final blow. The blade sliced through the air. It clanged as it hit something solid. Natalie stood not far off, wand raised, holding a shield in place above me. Gratitude flowed through my mind as I scrambled out of the way, summoning my magic, ready to fight. Holly and Natalie joined us, ready to kick some serious butt. Karthragan laughed. I didn't like the sound of that. He had something up his sleeve. I just didn't know what it was. Something slammed into my back, pinning me to the ground. I rolled, trying to throw whatever it was off. I froze. Jamie.
"What the hell are you doing?" I snarled, trying to shove him off. He smirked.
"What do you think I'm doing?"
I employed a technique I had only ever seen used once, and that was by Holly on a boyfriend she had caught with another girl. I kicked up backwards as hard as I could. Jamie yelped in a surprisingly satisfying high-pitched voice I shot out from underneath him, running to Holly and Natalie, starting to herd them towards the school.
"You've got to go!" I urged them.
"Nat, have you ever realised that Shadow says that and we obey, she always ends up beaten to a pulp?" Holly asked airily.
"Please, don't argue," I begged them, "you have no idea what he's capable of!"
"No, Shadow, we're staying. You might have lied to us all these years, but we're still your friends." Natalie replied firmly. She opened her mouth to say something else, but Karthragan launched his next strike. A wave of magic, not unlike one I unleashed during a power surge, knocked us all off our feet. For a moment, I couldn't breathe, the wind knocked out of my lungs. I coughed as I pushed myself up, wrapping an arm around my ribs.
"Shadow?" Came a quiet voice. A hand touched my shoulder. The strange girl was there. I finally got a good look at her. Her violet hair was cut in a severe bob although it was messy from fighting. Her eyes were equally purple. She looked so familiar. "Come on, Shadow," she said, helping me get up. "I've taken care of Dad. Let's get you seen to."
"Holly... Natalie..." I murmured, looking around for them. My eyes fell on two limp forms still lying in the grass. I froze. They weren't breathing.
I vaguely remember the girl dragging me off to the dorms, back to my room. I sat in the shower again, the way I had done three days ago. Silent tears streamed down my cheeks, mixed with the scalding water. The girl had to pull me out again an hour later. She sat me on the bed, wrapped in a blanket, staring blankly at the wall.
"Look, Shadow, you can't afford to do this to yourself. It's too dangerous. You know that."
"Who are you?" I murmured.
"I thought you would have recognised me, Shadow. I'm Amarath, Amarath Roth. Your twin." I tore my gaze away from the wall to look at her. Her hair, her eyes, her whole face. Everywhere in the scriptures, it had said that demons come in pairs. I had never actually realised the implications of that. Every demon had a twin. Amarath was mine. I let out a harsh, bark-like laugh. I lose both my best friends, another friend betrays me and I find a long-lost sister. Ignoring her as best I could, I stood up and got dressed. I got dressed in clothes that would be my style for the next few years. All black, a longsleeved top, jeans with a belt that could hold potions vials, ankle boots, and my cloak. I glanced around the room. Everything in it reminded me of Holly and Natalie. The books Natalie wanted me to read. The whoopee cushion I had taken off Holly for overuse. Photos of the three of us laughing. The pictures blurred. Turning away, I looked back at Amarath. Maybe it was time to go, before someone else got hurt.