Aria is dreading her sixteenth birthday. She knows she must go through the change like everyone else to find her Okan, but she's terrified. When she meets Jax, a mysterious third year in her school, she realises she may be venturing deeper into the darker side of things than she ever expected. And that her Okan may be drawn from something much more powerful inside her.
I lay on my back, hands behind my head, staring up at the blank ceiling, waiting. My eyes were red and sore, and my hair was limp from running my hands through it. Signs of stress. Obviously.
My sixteenth birthday is in two weeks, and I have been worrying about it for the past six months. I'm not scared of the change in my life, just what the change will be. Isaac changed half a year ago now, and he still isn't accustomed to his other form. He was very rare, a black leopard. Pure. He's huge in his other form, although I've only seen him once or twice. His coat is Black-grey, with flecks of brown running through it. The one thing that stays exactly the same is his eyes. They're dark, a grey so beautiful it pierces you when you meet his eyes. He dislikes them, and says they're a bad sign. I just tell him that at least his eyes aren't the colour of danger, that shuts him up. My eyes are hazel, nothing special, but around the dark hollow of my iris' there's streaks of amber-red. They fleck out in different directions, and when I get aggressive, or angry, they spread farther out, until my eyes look practically orange. A sign of danger.
Apart from my eyes, I mainly look average, I have dark hair that reaches to my waist, but it hangs in loose curls on a normal day. Now though, it's tangled and sticking all over the place. I know it's stupid to worry so, hundreds of people go through the same thing on their sixteenth, but I still have nightmares about it.
Annora also changed a few weeks ago, she's a cat now in her spare time, she also has the ability to talk to trees, something many of us have never seen before. She was urged to go into fighting, but she chose tracking and survival instead. Thats the way it works here. On your sixteenth birthday, male or female, you change. By change I mean discover your reflection, in Okan form. There have been myths about people not changing, but weather this is true or not I have no idea. After you change, some people discover they have a 'additional skill' as the academy like to call it. Like Annora's ability to talk to trees, others have special 'powers' like that.
I rolled onto my side and closed my eyes, concentrating on breathing in and out, out and in. After about an hour of repeating this, I'm dragged down into sleep.
In the dream I'm running, as fast as I can, my legs pumping, heart pounding; yet, I never seem to get any further. I can see the door at the end of the corridor, and push with all my might to reach it. I can feel a hot, dark pain uncurling from my heart, and laughter behind me, I recognise it, but from where I have no clue. I'm getting closer to the door now, shouting for Isaac who I know is there even though I can't see him; but just as my hand grasps the door knob, I feel my heart being wrenched backwards out of me. I have no choice but to go with it, and I watch in horror as the door disappears away from me and I'm engulfed with blackness.
I awoke gasping and roll to look at the clock, 3:36. I fall back onto my side and steady my breathing, but when I reached into my mind and try to find the dream, it has escaped me, and I fell back into a dreamless sleep.