Zendaya awoke to Araminta’s scuffling around the room. She sat up and rubbed the sleep from her eyes.
Araminta was dressed in warm clothes, her whip at her waist. She was walking around the room, upturning everything trying to find something.
“What’s wrong, Ara?” Neytiri asked, getting out of bed with a yawn.
“I’m heading out.” Araminta’s voice was tight and she didn’t sound like she wanted to talk about whatever was agittating her.
Neytiri didn’t press her. She went into her bathroom to change and by the time she came back out, Araminta had already left.
Neytiri left her room and found Alexia standing in the hallway with Myst.
“What do you mean she’s gone again?” Alexia was asking Myst.
“I said, she isn’t here. Hasn’t been for a while now,” Myst said in reply.
“What’s going on?” Zendaya asked, walking up.
Alexia and Myst quickly dropped whatever they had been discussing. “Nothing.” Alexia said. “We haven’t heard anything about the Darkness attacking yet. Everyone’s on edge right now.”
“The calm before a storm,” Myst muttered.
Zendaya nodded. “Hey, do either of you know what could be wrong with Araminta? She ran out of here pretty early. I don’t know where she was headed.”
“Maybe Nat really was telling the truth,” Alexia suggested.
“You think Araminta went down to the dungeons to see Ciel?” Zendaya asked, worried.
Alexia shrugged. “Just a thought. I don’t even know if Ciel really was one of the traitors. Natalia could easily have just been messing with us, you know.”
Zendaya nodded. “Still, I don’t like the situation after they had that fight and all.”
“You want to go check on her?” Alexia asked, already heading for the stairs. Zendaya nodded and followed her with Myst at her side.
They made their way down the stairs to the basement floor and from there down the rickety old staircase that led to the dungeons. In the hallway the torches were lit for the first time in centuries. The dungeon was hardly ever used, the last time having been decades before.
Currently the torches were all lit and the sound of angry teenagers came from every cell.
Zendaya led her friends down the hallway and glanced into every cell. She knew some of the Shadows, but didn’t see Ciel in any of the cells.
“Araminta’s not down here anyways,” Alexia said. “Where else could she be?”
Myst shrugged. Zendaya shook her head. “I have no idea.”
“Well, we might as well get some breakfast,” Alexia said. “What? It could be the last breakfast we ever have!” she defended her hunger at their looks.
Myst smiled and Alexia led the way back up the stairs. Professor Markowito smiled uncertainly as they passed the basement floor.
In the dining hall there was muted silence that gave Zendaya a headache. She was used to the hall being loud and boisterous and the silence was rather unnerving. Everyone was eating soundlessly, caught up in their own worries and thoughts.
“Excuse me, please listen.” Berret was standing on the stage with a loudspeaker. “I need Rising Sun to eat quickly and get their weapons and be ready at any moment. Crescent Moon is needed in the basement. Solar Eclipse is to help Crescent Moon for now. Thank you.” She left the hall and as Zendaya watched her leave she noticed that the principal appeared twice as old as she ever had before. The stress of this battle was evident in the creases on her brow.
“At least none of us are Crescent Moon,” Alexia muttered. “Sounds like an extremely boring position.”
Zendaya nodded. “I can’t imagine not fighting in this battle.”
Myst and Alexia nodded.
“What did I miss?” Zendaya turned to find Araminta standing behind her. She sat down beside Zendaya with a smile, completely different from the depressed girl she had been the night before.
“Berret wants all the Crescent Moon students and Hunters to meet in the basement. Rising Sun is to be ready at any moment to fight,” Alexia filled her in. “Hey, where were you?” she added.
“Oh, just…around,” Araminta ordered her food and started eating. Alexia shrugged at Zendaya look and finished up her own food.
“Well, I say we head to the training room and just work out before the fight.” Zendaya followed Alexia and Myst as they headed for the fourth floor, where a training room had been set up to meet every different Shadow’s needs.
For hours Alexia and Myst worked themselves out in wolf and cat forms while Zendaya tried different spells that she might find useful in the middle of a battle.
Hours passed and no one called them to fight the Darkness. After a while Alexia suggested they head back down.
Downstairs students and Hunters paced through the main entranceway and in the dining hall.
“What’s going on?” Alexia asked, stopping a young vampire name Salika.
“The Darkness still hasn’t attacked and everyone’s on edge. Berret came by a while back to encourage us to wait and be ready.” Salika walked away with a young werewolf and Alexia turned to Zendaya and Myst.
“Sounds like the Darkness is trying to rile us up,” she said.
Zendaya nodded. “Get us all worked up today, and attack tomorrow instead. Pretty good plan.”
“Students and Hunters, please to your rooms and get some rest!” Baramore’s voice booms through the hallways. “If the attack comes in the night, we will be sure to wake you. For now, please get some rest.”
Zendaya shrugged to her friends. “I guess there’s not much else we can do, now is there?” Alexia shook her head and they walked up the stairs to the girl’s dormitory together.
“I really wish Rhea was here,” Alexia muttered as she entered her room. Zendaya nodded in agreement as she went into her own room. She couldn’t stand lying in bed, knowing the Darkness could attack at any time.
What was this creature that was intelligent enough to know how to put its prey on edge and catch them off guard?
She closed her eyes, but wasn’t able to sleep soundly as she was plagued with dreams in which she saw her friends hurt and the Darkness reigning over the school and destroying everything in its path.