The sound of her breathing was as clear as dragging feet down the hallway, then everything settled down and her breath came out in the monotony so inherent to sleep. Damian and Jayden were standing on the deck at the far end of the hallway; their tall figures were a stark contrast against the bright, moonlit night behind them. The shadows they casted were long and dark, and their stealthy silence seemed to pierce the serenity of the night, the same serenity that had rocked Arianna into sleep.
“How much do you think she heard?” Jayden whispered, loosening his muscles. For a moment, he thought that at any given notice, he’d have to jump out of the house.
“Not enough,” Damian answered, “she isn’t overly intelligent, so I think she caught a word here and there, which I’m sure confuses her more than helps her. Next time we should be more alert. You were saying about Ace…”
“I did as you told and followed him home,” Jayden said, “he seemed perfectly normal when I followed him in open, crowded streets, but when he turned into quieter and more receded ones, he seemed to be aware of my presence. I had to tread carefully from then on because he kept glancing back; his gaze always hovering over my cover.” Jayden shuddered and continued, “And I felt asphyxiated.”
Damian regarded him gravely, as if his suspicions were proven correct. “He is definitely someone we have to watch closely. If the Seer is sending his minions forth before his time comes, that means he has every intention of hurting Arianna, and you know we cannot afford that.”
Jayden nodded and said, “He did something strange when he reached his house. He turned around and spoke some words; the wind carried his words to my ear. He said, ‘take care of her, she’s next’.”
Damian’s jaw was tight when he heard those words. The enemies were planning to make their move, and were so confident of their success that didn’t mind sharing it with them. Had Ace guessed they were warriors from Marlast and that Arianna was a witch? How long had the Seer been watching her? Long enough, Arianna was in a vulnerable position, having opened her heart to Ace. Nevertheless, Damian was not about to let them come close to her. Arianna didn’t mean anything to him, just the entity he had to protect, and he was determined to carry out his mission successfully.
“Agatha asked us to protect her for two weeks, until full moon; then they’ll take over,” Damian repeated. “We won’t let Ace get near her.” Damian returned to his room without further words with Jayden. Jayden understood Damian well enough; this was his usual way of saying good-bye, so Jayden disappeared into the night.
Back in his room, Damian glared out the window to the moon. It was just slivers away from being full, and the ominous time was coming, the time when the Seer shall be awaken through Arianna. Or that was Damian’s impression as to how Arianna fit in all this. Professor Aldern hadn’t filled him well enough; mostly, he skimmed over details, concluding that the students he was sending to Earth were there to protect the stray witch.
Damian tightened his fist at the thought of the Seer and the destruction he had caused during his time in Marlast before being cast away, along with his followers, by the witches and wizards. He remembered chaos, suffering, and fear. His ears still rang with the echoes of war and misery, and the cries of his family when the burning house fell over them and the piercing scream of his father as he fell on his knees, dead and broken, before the merciless Seer. He had been just a lucky boy who had survived the fire, too weak and unimportant for the Seer to kill.
“This time,” Damian seethed through his anger, “I will make sure you dig out your own grave before I kill you.”
“You look terrible.”
Arianna shot Damian a menacing look before walking over to the coffee machine and helping herself to a large mug of dark coffee. “Your meaningless words have no effect on me anymore,” she retorted, “besides, you don’t look any better than me.”
“I’m still charming,” Damian grinned annoyingly, “that’s the main difference between us.”
“You’re insufferable!” Arianna shouted and stormed out of the house. “Why didn’t I ran away the moment I met you?!”
Damian smiled inwardly and walked after her. “I was too handsome to resist,” he opened the passenger door for Arianna, “And a gentleman, by all means.”
Arianna raised an eyebrow, took the car keys, and shoved him away. “I drive today.”
Damian staggered backward, amused by her reaction. He felt like he liked her attitude a little bit more each passing day. “As you wish,” he said, and got into the car. Arianna was already inserting the key in the ignition key. “You’re the most selfish and uncivilized lady I’ve ever met.”
“Believe me, you won’t meet a lot like me,” she responded. She pulled out the driveway, and then casually asked, “Did you bring someone home last night?”
“Nope,” Damian lied.
“I don’t believe you, I heard you talking.”
“You were eavesdropping on me?” Damian feigned surprise, but in reality, his heart was racing.
“Of course not, I woke up from a nightmare I had and heard you talking. I don’t believe you’re insane enough to speak to yourself, anyway.”
“That is very reassuring."
“Is everything a joke to you?” Arianna sounded pretty annoyed.
“Okay, okay, sorry. Now, want to tell me about your nightmare? Sounds like you’re going to make a big fuss out of it.” Damian snorted, sensing Arianna needed an outlet for her emotions.
“Fine. I dreamt the death of a girl in an alleyway at night; it felt so real and frightening. The murderer was robed in black so I couldn’t see his face and the dead girl was so familiar, but I cannot place her face. It was a terrible dream. I still tremble whenever I think about it. I felt the murderer was going to kill me too…” She turned to Damian, waiting for an answer or an insight about her dreams, hoping that whatever Damian was hiding from her was the answer to the strange chains of events she was going through.
“I knew you were on the dark side. Relax, it was just a dream, most likely it isn’t going to appear again.” Damian wished he could believe it was just a dream, but something told him it was not. “I guess the murderer was more scared of you than you were of him.”
Arianna rolled her eyes, “I don’t even know why I’m wasting my time with you.”
Damian slammed the car door shut when they arrived at school.
“Hey, treat the car carefully!” Arianna objected, “do you have any idea of how much I had to save to buy it?!”
“This junk? I would probably say four months worth of salary?”
“You’re a pretty, rich boy; I wouldn’t expect you to understand, anyway.” She walked past him, her shoulder brushing aggressively against his.
“Hey, I’m sorry okay?” Damian walked after her, “I didn’t mean to hurt your car’s feelings.”
Arianna spun around to shout at him, but faltered. Her eyes were big with fear and her breath came out in ragged gasps. She was trembling and hugging her sides, as if she was cold.
“Arianna? Arianna, what wrong?” Damian took her by the shoulders and shook her. “What do you see, what do you feel?”
At first her words were undecipherable, but Damian could make out one word: afraid.
“Damian, I’m afraid, what’s happening? I feel cold, asphyxiated, someone’s watching me… It’s dark and I’m on an alley and…and he’s there, the murderer… wait…wait, please, please don’t hurt her, please don’t kill her!” Her voice broke into a sob, “make it stop!” She tightly shut her eyes and thunder was heard overhead. The once bright sky had turned into a sea of gray clouds, circling menacingly over them.
Damian looked desperately around him, but he didn’t see any threat to her. What was she seeing?