11. Darkness of the Wild
Aria tensed in my hold when Keena wrapped her hands around the crown of her neck, pushing her thumb into the middle of her forehead. She closed her eyes, throwing her head back as she chanted in a language I could not understand.
A bright light erupted from where her thumb touched Aria's forehead forcing me to close my eyes. Her chanting increased, filling my chest with a feeling of uncomfortable uncertainty.
I moved my arm to her waist, wrapping it tightly against her skin while she shook violently.
"Stop!" I growled. Aria had begun to groan painfully in my ear, it was a horrid sound I would never wish to hear again. But, Keena kept chanting, ignoring me completely.
I shut my eyes tighter as the brightness increased along with the volume of her voice. The air seemed uneasy around me, as if it had become palpable and now vibrated against my skin.
"I've got you." I whispered through my teeth when her painful groans turned into a sob. My body began to ache then, my bones almost turned into mush. She kept shaking, sobbing and the air kept grinding against my skin. "Ahhhhhhh." I grunted, trying to hold my strength together, for her.
Suddenly, the light that played against my eyelids faded and Aira stilled in my hold. She fell back into my arms, limp. As I opened my eyes, I saw Keena fall to her knees, and held Aria before she fell to her's.
Aria groaned, bending over slightly on her stomach before her legs became rigid once again. She stood still for a moment, my arm around her waist, my eyes glued to the back of her head and my heart beating crazily against my chest. What if it changed her completely? I was afraid now, of looking into her eyes and not recognizing her at all.
Her head moved as she scanned the room, looking at Keena for few seconds longer. She finally spun in my arm and faced me, her chest flush against mine. Her eyes dove into mine, and she offered me a small smile of comfort, her hand coming up and cupping my face.
Our hearts were one then, beating against each other and only separated by our skin. She pulled back slightly, her face marred by a slight frown before she smiled again.
"Thank you." She signed slowly. I nodded, my eyes wide on her, not willing to look away from her.
"You okay?" My voice finally made an appearance, sounding gruff and low. She nodded, pulling my arm away from her waist, making her way over to Keena. She grabbed her arm and helped her up onto the couch. I cleared my throat, studying her carefully.
She didn't look different. But I had a feeling that things were gonna change, and fast. Keena huffed, catching her breath as she let herself fall into the seat. "Hol' on...and let me catch my breath." Her chest heaved and her breath came in short pants.
Aria nodded, walking over to the mess of a shelf, picking up the small flask from earlier and offering it to her. Keena smiled taking it and sniffing it profusely. I frowned and looked over at Thijs who only shrugged.
"How are you feeling, Aria?" Sarn took a few steps toward her, but she put her hand up to stop him.
"I'm fine, really." She signed, "It is much more difficult for Keena than it is for me." She signed, looking over at me to reassure me once again.
"At least for now." Keena huffed again.
Aria bit the inside of her cheek, frowning, deep in thought. She nodded, mouthing the words "At least for now," to herself.
"So what now?" I turned to Keena, and everyone else looked to her as well.
"Now she decides, as you said, what she wants to do." Keena inhaled the contents of the flask one more time before screwing the lid back on. "She has the knowledge of her ancestors with her, if she has all of that knowledge and still decides to leave, then there would not be anything I could say to change her mind." She shrugged her shoulders.
"And if she decides to leave?" I took a few steps toward her. She turned to face me, her face indicating how irritated she felt at my presence, "How will we open the portal?"
She cleared her throat, "You don't need me for anything anymore, she has all the knowledge needed." Keena leaned back, placing her head against the back of the couch and closed her eyes.
I frowned, turning to ask Aria what she knew but I couldn't find her. I swept the room frantically, "Where is she?!" I grunted at the three people left in the room.
"I didn't even see her leave." Thijs muttered as him and Sarn looked around the room with me.
"She left." Keena spoke, "She needed time to clear her head."
"Are you fucking kidding me?" My hands turned into fists and I felt the anger and panic in my chest. "It's dark out there, she can't be- I need to protect her!" I roared, feeling the veins in my temples bulge.
I spin on my heels, ready to run out of there and find her. I had never let her out of my sight from the moment I found her here. Now, I had turned from her for a few seconds and she left. I don't know what she had gained with what Keena did to her, but the dangers that loomed out side of our reluctant shelter did not change.
"You must leave her be." She spoke, though her eyes remained closed and her head was still laid back.
"What?" Sarn questioned from his corner. "There are hellish creatures in the forest, how is she meant to survive that? We're going after her." Thijs nodded and they both made their way toward me.
"No." She lifted her head, "She has the knowledge of her ancestors, she will be fine."
"We're going." Thijs spoke with finality, nodding towards me, assuring me of his support.
She sighed, annoyed at our stubbornness, "Fine. But only you most go." She raised a bony finger at me, "She knows that no one would be able to stop you from protecting her, but you..." She turned to look at Thijs and Sarn, "If you get hurt she will not forgive herself."
"And I suppose you know her better than us?" Sarn scowled.
"She's right, I'll go alone. Someone she trusts has to stay here in case she comes back." I saw the defeat in their eyes, but they reluctantly agreed anyway.
Without looking back, I walked out into the darkness of the wild.