Jay stepped through the large oak doors on the first floor and onto the fifth Hunter floor. It was a lot more crowded than the day before now that Drey’s Hunters had joined them. Jay walked over to the tent he now shared with Neytiri and picked up his daggers. He had forgotten them in the morning when he went downstairs for breakfast and had been having withdrawals all day since Rhea and Neytiri had dragged him all over the place.
He smiled, thinking about the encounter with Drey, earlier in the day and how he, Neytiri, and rhea had nearly been caught for eavesdropping. He frowned as he thought about how Drey might be Neytiri’s father. If he was, he sure hadn’t shown it.
Jay picked up his daggers and clipped them to his belt. He walked back out of the tent and nearly ran into Drey.
“Sorry, sir,” Jay stuttered, stepping back.
Drey smiled, dark brooding eyes glowering down at Jay. “No problem, son.” Drey began to walk away, but stopped and turned back to face Jay. “Could I ask you about something?”
Jay nodded. “Sure thing.”
“That girl that was with you earlier, the Huntress…”
“Neytiri?” Jay clarified.
Drey nodded. “Could you tell me about her?”
Jay stared at him with questioning green eyes. “What about her?”
“What is she like?” Drey’s dark eyes brightened a bit, thinking about Neytiri.
Jay paused as he thought. “She’s kind and caring, a lot likeGriffin. She’s a natural leader. She often debates withGriffinon right and wrong. She…loves staring up at the stars at night and creating stories for the different constellations. She loves riding horses. Animals in general are simply…drawn to her. She has this perfect aura around her that shines on everyone and makes you want to be her friend…” Jay stopped, realizing he had kept going past whatever Drey might have wanted to know.
He looked back at Drey. Drey was smiling.
“You know her very well, don’t you?” he asked.
“We grew up together.” Drey nodded.
“Well, sorry to use you time, boy. But…thank you.” As Jay watched the large man walk away he got the feeling he didn’t often thank people. And he didn’t often ask people about his daughter either.
Jay turned to see Zarina looking at him with her striking gray eyes. She looked worried.
“Yes, Zar?” he asked, wlaking over to her.
“What were you doing with Drey?” she asked.
“Nothing. He was just asking some questions.”
“About Neytiri?” Zarina asked.
Jay narrowed his eyes. “Yeah. Why?”
Zarina looked around before answering. “He’s her father, you know.”
“I know.” Zarina looked surprised at this.
“Did Neytiri guess? Or did you?”
“She had heard about him from before. But seeing him, his hair and features… there’s a striking resemblance.”
Zarina nodded. “Don’t ever mention that toGriffinthough. Anyways, what did he want to know?”
“He just asked me what she was like. He kind of seemed like a father trying to learn something about his daughter. I didn’t see anything wrong with answering the question.”
“Of course not,” Zarina agreed. “Just…watch yourself around him, okay, dearest?” Jay nodded in response, not knowing exactly what she meant. Jay left Zarina and walked to the large purple door and stepped through it into the main entrance ofNightmareSchool.
“There you are,” Neytiri said, walking up with Taki at her side. “Did you forget we still have an apprentice to train?” Jay watched Neytiri’s movements, wondering how the stiff and unrelenting Drey could possibly be her father. He was nothing like her. Then he realized what she had said about their apprentice.
“Oh, right!” He smiled to Taki. “Ready?”
Taki sighed. “Here we go…” Jay grinned, leading them out through the front doors.
“Actually, wait a second,” Jay said, halting in the doorway.
“What?” Taki questioned.
“Why don’t we start training you with animals?” Jay asked, green eyes lit up with excitement. He dashed back to the large purple oak doors and went through. He saw where the wolves and big cats were being kept off to one side of the room. He snapped his fingers and his lion, along with Neytiri’s cheetahs glanced at him. He motioned for them to come and they obeyed like well trained robots. He took them through the door and back to where Neytiri and Taki were still waiting in the doorway.
Neytiri smiled when she saw her cheetahs. “Hey, Sarabi, Sarafina!” Neytiri bent down and scratched them behind their ears. Both big cats purred with delight and Jay’s lion looked up at him pleadingly.
“Oh, alright, Mufasa,” Jay grinned and sat down to scratch his own lion. Taki smiled and sat down between them.
“You two big fans of Lion King or something?” Taki questioned, noticing that all three big cats were named for lions in the Disney movie.
Neytiri laughed. “Only because it’s the only kid’s movie we ever saw.” She turned to Jay. “Do you remember that? We had run upon that little town and the people so thought there were monsters in the woods!”
“If only they knew it was two young Hunters trying to find a home with a good movie to watch!” They both laughed and Taki joined them.
Jay got to his feet. “Well, let’s get going, shall we?” Neytiri stood up and he led the way out of the school with Mufasa at his side. They walked out into the woods bordering the school and Jay stopped and turned to Taki. “Now, Neytiri and I are going to be watching you and you have to use Mufasa, Sarabi, and Fina to find tracks…or something.” Jay grinned mischievously and Taki looked on nervously.
“Come on,” Neytiri motioned to him. Before Taki could turn to see where they had gone, they had jumped up into a tree and were looking down at her. For a few moments she just stood there, scrutinizing the cats. Then she shrugged and began walking.
Jay and Neytiri followed her through the trees. Taki managed to find tracks of a lesser-demon and began to follow them. The big cats patrolled around her, sniffing and snarling every few moments. As Taki came close to the end of the trail of lesser-demon tracks, she suddenly called out in fear.
“What’s wrong?” Neytiri was looking all around the girl, trying to find what had caused her to cry out.
But Jay was sitting on the branch beside her laughing. Jay looked down and saw Zaiko had popped out from behind a bush and scared Taki half to death.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Taki demanded, face red with embarrassment. Zaiko was laughing so hard he couldn’t answer.
Neytiri hopped down out of the tree and Jay followed her. She marched up to the chef and glared at him. “Why are you messing with our apprentice?” Zaiko had calmed down enough to talk and was wiping tears from his eyes.
He held up his hands in a sign of surrender. “I’m really sorry guys. I was out here trying to find some food when I saw Taki and I just couldn’t resist…” Neytiri shook her head.
“If I didn’t know Jay, I’d say you were the most immature Hunter I’ve ever met!” she said angrily, stalking away.
“Hey!” Jay said halfheartedly. He turned and grinned to Zaiko. “Good one!” They high-fived as Taki paced around in circles, looking down at the ground.
“Well, I’ve got to get back to the school See you guys later!” Zaiko left and Jay looked over at Taki.
“What are you looking at?” he asked, walking over.
Neytiri gasped from her perch in a tree. She jumped down and landed beside Jay. “Do you see what I see, T?” Taki nodded, green eyes scared.
“What is it?” Jay asked, looking down at where they had been looking. “I don’t see anything.”
“It’s a summoning circle,” Neytiri said, pointing out the lines and designs to Jay. “It’s used to bring dead spirits back into our world.”
“Like, ghosts?” Jay asked. Neytiri nodded grimly.
“Do you think this is the work of a student? We aren’t that far from the school,” he suggested.
Taki shook her head. She was still walking around it, looking down at the marks. “Summoning spells are far too difficult. And a summoning circle for a ghosts is super advanced stuff.”
Jay looked at her. “How do you know that?” Taki finally looked up and met his gaze with a smile.
“I made friends with a pixie yesterday. She was telling me all about forbidden magic.”
“Of course that’s what they would talk about,” Neytiri muttered. She snapped her fingers and Sarabi and Sarafina, along with Mufasa, came running. She pointed at the circle and her cheetahs rolled around on it, destroying any evidence that it had ever been there at all.
“Why did you do that? We could have shown it toGriffinor Berret!” Jay protested.
“I did it to send a message to the person who did this. They should know that someone has discovered them and that they need to stop doing this unnatural crime against nature.” Neytiri clenched her fists. She whirled around and started walking back to the school, Taki at her side, Sarabi and Sarafina following. Jay nodded to Mufasa and they brought up the rear.
He glanced back at the summoning circle and shivered. Who would want to bring the dead back to life? And who had been brought back? Were they a threat to the Hunters and Shadows?