Sparks fly and contrast against the clear, cerulean sky, dancing in the air before sinking down and disappearing at the touch of the ground. A passing cloud obscures the ground before me, and as quickly and unexpectedly as it had come, it disappeared. The sunray produced after the short period of darkness bounces off the shining, metal blade and into my eyes, blinding me for instances. I try to blink away the dancing colors before my eyes and lower the daggers I am holding, having sharpened them the entire morning. I stand up and enter the small cabin, placing the newly sharpened daggers carefully in its respective place. When I turn around, Leila is standing in the doorway.
I smile at her and go back to my silent musings and careful organization of the deadly weapons. Leila has been back for three days, acting very silent and secretive. Many of her nights were shared in Astra’s home and she returned to her own bed only after several hours past midnight. I know of this because I’ve been observing her like the stealthy hunter I am. Hunter, she always calls me a hunter without judging my past, at least not voicing her opinion about it. I really wonder what she thinks about me and how I came to be a witch hunter.
“We shall be leaving soon, Adryan,” her voice breaks the silence.
A small smile creeps to my face at the replacement of ‘hunter’ for my name. Wait. I turn around and eye her with suspicion, “leaving?”
Leila’s solemn lips break into a smile. “Sorry I didn’t tell you before,” she says, crossing her arms playfully, “but I didn’t consider it necessary because you have nothing to prepare for our departure.”
I frown and scowl at her purposely hurtful remark. “Very well,” I reply, trying to counter-attack her comment, “but at least I should be notified if I am to make a trip, just a piece of my mind for you to keep in mind when you decide to travel and bring me along.” I grin at her flustered expression. “Where to?”
“Never mind,” Leila says simply, disappearing from the doorway. “I will just find someone else to come with me.”
“Suit yourself,” I say in an undertone, slamming the drawer shut a little bit too strong. Curiosity peeks from the depth of my heart and mind, and I find myself taking long strides to catch up with her.
Our shadows seem to hide beneath our bodies, cowering from the unusually blazing sun overhead. No shadows are seen in the sky, but we wouldn’t know, we didn’t take the chance of looking up and risking being blinded by the potent sunlight. Leila must be suffering under her heavy dark cloak, but her demeanor portrayed freshness, which baffled me for I was wearing a thin shirt and slacks. The bundle that hung in my shoulder provides only enough shelter for a small portion of my skin.
We set foot this morning toward the town of Atala, to settle in there momentarily for reasons unknown to me, only me. As always. I watched as Astra wrapped food and water for our trip in tight bundles and put it in our bags. Leila only carries a pouch just big enough for it to keep her poisons and concoctions safe from the unkind and curious gazes of the town’s inhabitants. She also has her dagger stored in there, which she can screw-in a flask of poison that kills the demons. The poison runs down the blade through several small veins carved in it and when the poison makes contact with the demon’s blood it writhes and kills the demon instantly. From the ground you were erected, you shall return to it.
“Don’t fret, we will be there soon,” Leila tries soothe my fatigue and sweat-dripping face.
“How soon?” my voice comes out as wheeze.
“One more village and we will be in Atala.”
I lift my eyes and marvel at the sight before me, in this particular moment my skin thinks before my brain does and only wants to protect itself under the cool shade provided by the trees before us. I walk in longer strides to catch up with Leila, who is now motionless under the cover of an evergreen tree. Its branches seem to stretch out and tangled with the other trees nearby, creating a close canopy. The wind blows her hair carelessly, her blond hair rippling beneath the sunlight that shines through the leaf. That moment took my breath away and slows down my pace, for the first time I really acknowledge Leila’s true beauty as a woman.
I catch up to her and look at her face; it is lock in a grim silence, aware of her surroundings. She lifts her head up some inches and sniffs the still air, her eyebrows knit in deep concentration.
“What’s going on?” I ask, looking into the forest. Dread and fear becomes a common language as my nose picks up the scent of death accompanied with fire.
“I smell blood… hey!” Leila calls as I leave her behind in a sprint. I run as fast as I can to spare human lives from scorching beneath the fury of flames. A blur of shadows and smog clouds my senses and augments my wrath. Sparks of flame bursts into the sky, follow shortly by a stream of smoke and painful screams as human bodies hit the ground. I force my legs to go faster even though they ached and prickled from the forced impulse, I am determine to catch the wrongdoers and bring them to justice.