Chapter XVI: The Elements and the Eye (10/13)Mature

You weren't so obedient a few weeks ago, I think we're all bad influences on each other. Now,' she turned her attention back to the book, placing it on the coffee table and beginning to read, falling into a hibernation mode where she didn't want to be bothered. Will occupied himself by flicking through books left around, he noticed that on many of the title pages, either 'human' or 'magus' had been written in red lipstick, the handiwork of the Twins he had no doubt. Tayna referred from book to book, checking references and matching stories. He saw from reading the upside-down titles that she was researching the Days of Darkness and the abilities of past Spiritdescendants.

Suddenly, from the concentrated silence, Tayna flicked a page and let out a noise of disgust. Will looked up anxiously, expecting her to have found a gruesome fact or a strange spell. Instead, she had found blue-currant jam lathered on one of the pages, now coating her hand. She withdrew a tissue from her pocket and wiped her fingers meticulously.

'Next time I see Andrel,' she said irritatedly, 'remind me to stuff him and hang him on a wall.' Will smiled to himself, he felt like he was climatizing to their constant bickering. Still, a thought played on his mind.

'Have you and Andrel always been...friends?' 

She looked up, curious but not taken aback. 'Yeah, since first form, why?'

'No, I mean...' Will felt his cheeks redden, 'have you ever been anything...else?'

She understood his meaning and blushed, 'well - why do you care?'

'Just...background information,'

She turned her attention back to her books, silent for a while until she said, 'then, the answer is no.' The air was tense for a moment, suddenly the silence was perforated by Tayna snorting and bursting out laughing, lowering her head almost onto the table as her shoulders bounced with humour.

Will looked at her, sour with embarassment. She looked back up at him after a couple of minutes of laughing, her cheeks flushed and looking near tears. 'Sorry,' she said, 'it's just...how did you ever come to that conclusion?'

'You don't have to rub it in,' he grumbled, slouching further down in the bean bag and crossing his arms.

Tayna calmed down, ready to return to reading. Her finger curled around the next page of a book, but she suddenly recoiled like she'd been bitten or stung. She frowned, a 'V' forming between her brows, looking down at the book with intrigue.

'What is it?' Will asked, sitting up straighter.

'I felt a...well, I don't know what I felt. It was like a chill...' she reached out and touched the book page again. This time, it flew over onto the next double page, an image branded on one of the pages that thrust agony through them both and make screams that couldn't be heard.

Will only had to glance at the image, he knew it, it was as familiar to him as a chip in his bones; a mark on his soul. A mist flew over his eyes, blood drained from his pale cheeks and agony struck him like the sting of a thousand needles. He fell backwards and his temple collided with the lowest railing, the metal clang and Tayna's scream trilling in his ears. He felt the image scarring into his head, black and dark, so cold that it burnt, strokes of sharp and gentle with patterns that churned his belly and twined around his gut. Numbness spread, first across his face, deadening his jaw and his eyelids, then his hands, his fingers curling in. It took him a moment to realise he had been screaming all the while, and it had faded to a drone of desperation.

The last words he heard were Tayna's, he could make out just two, 'evil eye...'before a shroud of blackness held him in a cold, velvety caress.

The End

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