Even as the children realised where they were, they showed no fear. They had fought monsters and sorcerers before. This was going to be a breeze. One thing confused them though. How had they ended up in a forest?
“Miss, where did you try to shadow walk to?” Helena whispered.
“The building down the street, you saw it, the big grey one.”
“Yes I did. That’s where I wanted to go also. So where are we?” Helena trailed off. The wolves were advancing faster now, licking their lips hungrily. Their fur bristled but swayed slightly in the ghostly breeze that was roaming through the deadly silent forest. They appeared to be in a glade, no flowers grew only ferns that blocked the children’s view. One wolf, most likely the pack leader stepped forward. Eve also stepped forward, brandishing her sharp nails and showing her teeth to her opponent. Miss Cain stepped forward to help but Nix held her back. He looked at her with sorrow in his eyes but that quickly changed to his usual glare.
“Let her prove herself.” He muttered gruffly.
The next minute passed in a blink of an eye. Eve and the wolf, who they now noticed had a strange walking pattern that they had never seen in any other creature, circled each other. The wolf howled and Eve returned it with a growl. The wolf leapt onto Eve, knocking her to the ground. They fought savagely, the others only being able to see the shine of teeth and claws. Tal looked around with a mixture of confusion and remembrance on his face. He seemed utterly unfazed that Eve was fighting a wolf right next to where he was standing. He suddenly gasped a gasp so unnerving the fight stopped and everyone, even the wolves stared at him. Then he did the kneeled. He simply kneeled and held out his palm. Everyone continued staring until the wolves slowly walked towards him. The leader of the pack untangled his legs and joined the pack that was continuing towards Tal. The leader, Eve realised with a smirk, now walked with a limp. When the wolves had gathered around Tal, the others moved away. All except Hel, who now had a look of realisation on her face. She backed away in horror, then managed to remain her composure and stepped forward. Tal looked at her strangely, with a look of victory but confusion as to why she was scared. He looked away suddenly.
“We need to walk that way.” He announced. The others looked to Hel for assurance, she knew Tal best. She nodded. So they all started their trek out of the forest. The wolves staying unmoving, in the glade.
When they arrived at a house on a hill, Tal explained that the forest and house were his. They were on his property. The Emperor’s realm. Tal unlocked the door with a key hidden in the sole of his shoe. They all walked in and found a girl sitting on the carpet cross legged plaiting her hair. She had fuzzy blond hair and was wearing a school uniform. She looked unusually thin. Hel looked with wide eyes at the girl, she glanced at Tal. He looked equally dumbstruck. The girl stood up and walked over to Miss Cain, Nixion and Eve. She held out her hand. “Hi, I’m Aleena. Full name Aleena Rafaella. Rafaella means...”
“Blessed healer” Miss Cain interjected.
“Correct.” Aleena looked impressed. “You know your Hebrew. Well that’s what I am, a healer. Not sure about being blessed though... Anyway, you,” She said looking at Eve. “Are hurt.” Eve looked stunned, no one had realised that Eve was hurt from her battle with the wolf.
“You’ve been hurt for years,” Said Aleena looking sad. “I’ll fix you up!” She smiled again brightly. She then turned to the rest of the group, she looked at Hel.
“You are hurt from longing.” Aleena looked at her kindly. “There’s nothing I can do about that.” Hel looked embarrassed while everyone looked at her with pity.
After the introduction, the group had found out that Aleena knew Hel and Tal and had heard about the others. She had found herself strangely in Tal’s living room after waking up but she knew she was meant to be there. In the next few minutes, the troop had shown up. She healed whatever wounds Eve had with potions and growing hands. She worked hard and by the end Eve looked relieved. They also found out that Tal had pictured the forest when Miss Cain and Hel had shadow walked and somehow diverted the shadow walk. Then the argument started. Nix didn’t want to stay with Tal; he said he was too dangerous, unpredictable. Tal argued back, back didn’t have a very convincing argument. Miss Cain walked over to the record player on the mantelpiece and started some music to try and drown out the argument. It only worked a little bit.
Helena felt caught in the crossfire. They had been arguing like this for about an hour. She felt like sitting down and crying and the sad music coming from the record playing wasn’t aiding her mood. Nix was the oldest. He could take charge she thought bitterly. But she was the one who had group this strange troop together. She felt like there was a war going on inside her head. She had to admit, she was scared of Tal and the power he seemed to possess but she thought he would make a great ally; it would also be a terrible idea to have him as an enemy. She wanted urgently to find out more about his powers, to be closer to him. It would be comforting, she thought, to have a close friend as powerful as him, to be able to protect her from harm. But she was a warrior, had been training longer than Tal and could beat him in any physical fight without magic. She needed to stay strong. She looked over at her companions that weren’t arguing. Aleena, Eve and Miss Cain were whispering about something, who knew what. Who cared also? If only Lynxia were here. She would be able to sort everything out and we would be able to go on our merry way. But that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. Helena knew what she had to do.
“Guys,” Helena yelled over the raucous. Everyone quieted down instantly.
“Tal’s staying with us, so let’s get moving.” Hel wished she could say more but she couldn’t find the words. Tal betrayed no emotion but Nix was clenching his fists.
Yours in eternity,
P.S. I love the name of this chapter.