It was a momentary certainty that Arianna wasn’t in any danger when she walked down the hallway with Damian. If he could have it his way, he would be her shadow. However, that would expose him and his friends and ruin their mission. No, he couldn’t live with failing in his first real mission, a mission so important that it could grant him a name in the warring community back in Marlast. Besides, if he stayed long enough with Arianna, he could have a chance to battle against the Seer before the wizards and witches take over him. Damian owed his father at least that much.
He didn't like Ace, maybe it was his cold and measured stare when he had pinned Ace to the lockers, or the friendly way he and Arianna had exchanged smiles, like old friends. Whatever it was, he didn’t want to see Arianna with him; he felt dangerous.
“How long have you known Ace?” Damian asked casually.
Arianna glanced at him suspiciously, but didn’t accuse him of anything. “He was my first friend since I move to California.”
“Were you always with him?”
Arianna stared hard at Damian, “why are you suddenly so interested in my friends?”
“I just want to know with what kind of people you hang out with.”
“That’s none of your business,” she retorted, “with what kind of people did you hang out with, in New York?”
“Is this a Quid Pro Quo game?”
“Take it as you like, but if I don’t any answers from you, you won’t get any from me either.” Arianna smiled smartly at Damian, sensing victory within her grasp.
“Let’s say I hanged out with people very unlike you.”
“That’s ambiguous,” Arianna protested. “I used to always be with him in middle school, but that changed when we started high school. I guess he felt uncomfortable around my girl friends. Oh, and by the way, don’t come close to my friends, it will be enough to have them talk about you for the rest of the school year, don’t make them drool over you too.”
“What can I say? I’m too charming to resist,” Damian grinned.
Arianna rolled her eyes. “I have class right now, see you later.” She gave a little wave and turned around the corner.
Damian watched her go before turning to the school yard, looking for Helena and Jayden. He found them sitting under a tree, nibbling at their lunch, and walked to meet with them. However, before arriving, the cold sensation settled on the pit of his stomach again, and his senses went numb with danger. He searched around him and found a pair of coal black eyes gazing intently at him from a distance. It was Ace; he was leaning against a wall with his arms crossed. He grinned at Damian and disappeared. Damian tightened his fist and half sprinted to his friends to tell them all about Ace.
“Yeah, we saw him. He was staring at you the moment you stepped into the school yard. Are you sure you felt dark energy?” Jayden asked. “Maybe you’re too stressed out by this mission and are imagining things.”
“I’m telling you, this Ace is not to be trusted. What if he is one of the Seer’s minions in disguise? He has had access to Arianna for much too long.” Damian pressed. “We have to keep an eye on him; tonight, you’ll follow him home Jayden.”
“Alright, today after class, let’s meet here. I want to introduce her to you two. I want her to trust the three of us in case something happens and we’re forced to take her away.”
The last bell finally rang; the hallways were being packed with yawning students ready to go home. Damian was leaning against the wall adjacent to Arianna’s classroom. When he saw her walk out of the room, he slithered through the crowd and grabbed Arianna’s elbow, half dragging her out of the causeway of students. Arianna was startled and surprised, but when she saw who was dragging her away without explanation, her features hardened. She pulled her arm away and opened her mouth, but Damian just took her by the wrist and hauled again.
“What is wrong with you, brute?” She demanded, trying to wriggle her hand free. “You think I’m a ragdoll you can just take by the wrist and drag around without ever explaining what goes through your head?”
Damian didn’t answer, instead, he pulled her into a half sprint across the school yard, where Jayden and Helena were waiting under a tree. Both looked very nervous and curious as they saw Arianna approached, as if regarding her as a sort of high magical royalty clad in awkwardness and teenage normalcy.
Arianna was doubly confused and uncomfortable when the two tall teenagers, of almost similar looks as Damian, were looking down at her from their brooding height. “Uh, hi?” she managed to mutter.
“You wanted to know about my friends? Well, this is Jayden and she is Helena, we met during our class break.” Damian informed.
Arianna turned to him with raised eyebrows. “You made friends so fast?”
“Yeah, and they are trustworthy.” Damian put strained on trustworthy. “If I’m not around to keep you away from problems, they will. Just look for them.”
Arianna was taken aback, “I’m sorry, but what? I seldom get into trouble. I appreciate your efforts at trying to be a kind stepbrother, but no thanks. I can take care of myself.” She gave Damian a hateful look before turning to Jayden and Helena. “I’m very happy to meet the two of you and hope we can chat anytime soon, now I have to get my stuff from the locker, which I didn’t have a chance to since Damian dragged me here right after my class.”
“No problem,” Helena smiled sweetly, “If anything, feel free to tell us. We hope to hear much about you.” Those words had double-meaning, and Arianna sensed it.
She nodded hesitantly and turned to walk back to the school.
“I’ll be waiting in the car!” Damian shouted. Then Arianna was lost in the sea of students.
“She seems nice,” Jayden commented. “Tough spirit, I can tell she gets into heated arguments with you. Is that your way of getting her trust?"
“I think I’ve gained it already.” Damian smiled. “Anyway, remember the plan, I’m expecting you at her house at midnight.”
The three warriors parted way and Damian strolled to the car, waiting for Arianna. He regarded the sky with serenity; this world wasn’t as different as his own. At least the sky here was clear of clouds during some times of the year. In Marlast, the days were always filled with dark ominous clouds.