I coughed as I barely stopped myself from choking on my own tongue. The Control?! The Control was here? Now?! From any other day of the year, of any other time in the day they pick now to show up?
“Uh... good afternoon” I greeted them nervously curtseying a little. Was I supposed to curtsey? I wasn’t sure.
“Good afternoon, um Control... It is a pleasure to finally meet the people who we’ve been hearing and reading about in our history classes” Helena stepped up to greet them and cover for my stuttering mess.
All four nodded slightly to acknowledge our greetings and Mr Obsidian cleared his throat gesturing towards The Control. The Control consisted of two men and two women, they all stood tall and proud and authority practically oozed from their pores. I gulped, knowing that I stood in the presence of the four most powerful Abled in our Abled community.
“Ladies, this Marco Amnis. He is the Water-abled leader” Mr Obsidian waved his hand towards a tall man with jet black, cropped hair and sapphire blue eyes. He had a slight scattering of stubble over his chin and he bowed his head in acknowledgement.
“Good afternoon ladies” he greeted us with a deep, smooth velvety voice.
The dean waved towards the woman standing next to him. She had blonde hair streaked with natural orange highlights that was styled into a spiky pixie hairstyle. “This is Sicilianna Ardere, leader of all Fire-abled” Sicilianna’s pale blue eyes were sharp and seemed to penetrate our own gazes before she nodded her head once but otherwise didn’t speak.
“Here we have Tatiana Solum, Earth-abled leader” I felt my unease from Sicilianna vanish when I took in the tall, curvaceous woman the dean was introducing us to. She had beautiful chocolate skin and blonde hair that was completely shaven but her copper eyes were warm and she smiled wide as she bowed her head.
“Hello Valerie and Helena, it is a pleasure to meet such beautiful young Abled” I smiled in response, immediately liking Tatiana.
“And last but not least, this is...-“
“Gabriel Sano” The last Abled interrupted. He had long russet hair that waved to his shoulders and dark brown eyes that bore into ours. He stepped forward to stand before me and I automatically stepped back. “Leader of Healers...”
He closed his eyes and my own eyes widened in astonishment when the throbbing pain in my leg from the burn Derrek inflicted on me by accident began to heat up. Helena looked at me in confusion when my face contorted with an uncomfortable expression but suddenly the pain was gone. I looked down and realised without lifting a finger Gabriel had healed my burn.
He stepped back and nodded his head like Marco, Sicilianna and Tatiana had and didn’t speak further. I cleared my throat, “Uh... hello Gabriel, and uh... thank you”
He nodded again and shifted his eyes back to Mr Obsidian.
“The Control has come along today to visit the Elementals and do a sort of assessment. No, Helena, it won’t be anything that will harm them. Just a few questions and a little bit of a demonstration is all. It is a good thing you ran into us, quite literally, so you can show us where they are”
Helena and I swapped looks that filled half with horror and half with panic. Now? They wanted to be taken to see the Elementals now?!
“Sure Mr Obsidian, Control” Helena answered slowly. “The Elementals are with Derrek at the moment. We were with them in the forest just earlier. Just follow us”
She grabbed my arm and turned us around walking back towards the forest. I barely noticed her stiff shoulders as I walked and tried to think of a way to let Derrek know that Mr Obsidian was bringing The Control with us. We stepped out onto the campus grounds and the light sounds of happy chatter filled the air, it felt so opposite to the dread filling my insides that I felt like shouting that this was no happy moment.
We couldn’t let The Control see the shadow – Chimera and Evanesce, they were Elementals. While The Control were visiting to ‘assess’ Blake, Cameron, Sophia, Bree and Cara, and they weren’t evil or any reason to worry about, but this shadow was. If The Control was to see the shadow and realise it was also an Elemental they would lump the ‘good’ Elementals along with it and see them as some sort of threat. I had no idea what they would do if they deemed the five as a threat but I was sure it couldn’t be good.
“So my dears, what were you two and this... Derrek? Doing with the Elementals in the forest?” Marco asked. I could sense the power emanating from him and turned to see The Control and Mr Obsidian looking at Helena and I waiting for an answer.
“Just exercising our abilities” Helena interrupted me. “Many of the other Abled students aren’t quite as comfortable with the sense of something ‘new’. So we tend to watch the Elementals exercise their abilities in privacy”
“Yes...” I agreed lamely.
Marco nodded and shared a look among the other three leaders that I didn’t quite understand. Hopefully they wouldn’t dissect Helena’s words to try and find something incriminating. I glanced down at Helena’s fingers and noticed she was randomly waving her fingers, as though her fingers were playing across the keys of a piano, and saw her eyes concentrating into the forest.
We entered into the forest and I heard the hollow whispering of wind blowing through the trees. It didn’t seem like the natural flow of wind and was wondering if Bree was sending us a message or signalling us something. Was there more danger? Was someone injured? I had no idea and the suspense was killing me knowing that I couldn’t do anything while under the watchful eyes of The Control.
My muscles were clenching and my legs shook as I concentrated every bit of my will power to contain the shrieking shadow inside the fire dome. The Elementals stood helplessly to the side, knowing that they couldn’t do anything to help me. Containing this shadow was solely up to me and it was beginning to take its toll on me.
“How long is it going to take them?!” I growled when I quickly fixed up a hole that was beginning to widen from my lack of energy.
“It can’t be too long? Maybe Mr Obsidian wasn’t in his office-“ Cameron started before being interrupted by Bree.
“Quiet!” She shushed him. “The air is too quiet”
Everyone fell silent as we realised she was telling the truth. Suddenly the trunk of a thick tree snapped. The cracking sounded like bones cracking and slowly it groaned and fell to the ground. Everyone had taken up offensive and defensive positions but it was then that we realised the bark of the tree was starting to rip off.
“What the...?” I whispered under my breath. Light ripping noises filled the air as we watched the bark rip itself away from the tree to form words.
The Control is here.
Release the shadow.
Entering forest now.
“Do you think it’s a trap?” Sophia asked as her animal-like eyes darted around the trees looking for an invisible enemy.
“No... it’s Helena. She’s warning us! She’s with The Control and they’re nearly here” He looked up from the ripped bark and up at me, “She’s saying you need to let the shadow go”
“What? No!” I shouted back.
“I don’t like the idea either Matchstick! But she’s warning us that we should and I’m sure she has a good reason!” Blake shouted back.
I growled as sweat trickled down the back of my neck. “Sophia! Fly up and see where they are!” I ordered.
She nodded and, within seconds, disappeared up into the tree tops as a small blue bird. While she was gone I weighed my options. Helena was warning us to let the shadow go. She knew what it was possibly capable of and yet was telling me to let it go. But, why?
I could just ignore her warning and keep it captured... but who knows what the repercussions could be. A blue bird streaked through the air and Sophia was back in human form looking directly at me. “They’re not far, maybe five minutes away at most. You need to decide Derrek”
I tore my eyes away from her and glared at the shadow that was no longer shrieking and was now standing straight and seemed to be staring right back at me... if it had eyes. I growled and shouted out my frustration before slicing my hands through the air and cutting out the fire.
Not even a second passed and the shadow was hurtling up and directly into the dark shade of a large boulder. “No!” I shouted, even though I knew it was inevitable. I ran after it and slammed my fists against the hard bumpy surface of the boulder. “Damnit!”
“Incoming” Sophia warned us as she listened to the warnings of the animals around us that stayed hidden.
I hauled myself up and collapsed on top of the boulder, feigning laziness but really I was exhausted. Having to keep that fire dome constant to trap the shadow took a lot of my energy away from me and my body ached all over at the exertion. The Elementals dropped to the ground and began chatting about anything that first came to their mind.
“Ah Derrek!” I heard Mr Obsidian call out in his usual happy voice. I tipped my head up and caught Val’s eyes. I smiled, knowing that I had to act as though nothing suspicious was going. Hopefully the completely black and crispy ground wouldn’t raise to many questions.
I slid down off the boulder and winced when my legs nearly gave out. “Mr Obsidian, what a surprise”
Val walked over to stand by me and I noticed she didn’t seem in pain anymore and she was no longer limping. I looked down quickly and saw her skin was completely smooth once again and there was no hint of the burn that had eaten into her leg. Helena walked over and stood next to Val while the Elementals stood up and respectfully bowed their heads to greet The Control.
“Elementals, Derrek this is The Control – Marco, Sicilianna, Tatiana and Gabriel” Mr Obsidian introduced us before waving his hand towards each of the Elementals. “Now, if you wouldn’t mind. When I introduce you could you please demonstrate your abilities”
If anyone else had made this request, it would have sounded as though the Elementals were under police scrutiny and they had to be named while stamping their fingerprints to be documented. The way Mr Obsidian asked, with his kind smile and gentle, happy voice it didn’t sound as daunting.
“Blake” Blake stepped forward and threw his hands out to the sides. Icy flames spurted from his hands and I rolled my eyes. He called out the rest of the Elementals’ names and each of them would step forward to demonstrate their ability until he reached Cara. “And last, and most definitely not least of all is Miss Cara”
All eyes fell onto the innocent looking blonde haired, blue eyes girl and she stepped forward only to nod. Mr Obsidian turned to The Control when they looked curious as to why Cara didn’t demonstrate. “Cara, here, is our innocent one. She despises the fact she had any connection to Malum, although it was not at all her fault, and she refuses to use the ability he instilled into her. Something I have to believe is very admirable”
I could feel Val’s fingers lace through mine and they tightened as we waited to see what The Control would think of that. “Yes, I do believe that is very admirable” The Earth-abled leader, Tatiana, agreed with a bright white smile. “Maybe you can explain what it is you can do then?”
Cara smiled and stood a little taller, “I uh... I guess I can collect the energy around my surroundings and gather it into a physical shape”
I snorted in the back of my mind. That was a simple way of putting her abilities... put aside the fact that it was the deadliest thing I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life and was completely uncontrollable.
“Fascinating” Tatiana gushed.
I watched the others’ reactions and I could see that Marco was intrigued while Sicilianna didn’t seem quite happy; she had a very stoic face so I could’ve been wrong. Gabriel on the other hand seemed to just... understand. The corner of his lips lifted into a small smile and I wasn’t sure if he was smiling to keep the calmness in the air or because he actually understood what Cara meant.
“These are very interesting abilities, no one can deny that. But we need answers to our questions” Sicilianna barked. As a fellow Fire-abled, I understood that Fire-ableds had a sort of personality where our moods controlled us much more than the average person, but Sicilianna’s personality reminded me of a strict drill sergeant who spoke when only necessary or to bark orders.
“Yes, very well” The dean agreed. “Derrek, Valerie, Helena we will need discretion for these questions so I will have to ask you three to wait outside the forest. If you would like to return to your apartments then that would be fine as well”
The three of us nodded and with one last look to the Elementals we turned our backs and walked out of the forest wondering what The Control could possibly be asking them. Val, Helena and I waited by the lake while the Elementals were stuck in the forest to be questioned.
I hated to admit it, but after the last few months I couldn’t find it in me to hate them. Blake... I’m not too sure, but the others I was sure I didn’t hate. “So what exactly happened once you two ran off into the forest?” I asked curiously.
I smirked when Val rolled her eyes and scoffed loudly. “Don’t even get me started Sparky!” she wailed, “Helena here decided it was a great idea to use trees to throw us back to the campus! I barely had enough time to wrap my brain around the fact that I needed to create an ice slide so we didn’t end up as pulp!”
I burst out laughing. The look of pure fright was etched across Val’s face as she told the story although her bright , clear blue eyes still sparkled with amusement. “Hey Sparky... I was actually wondering, what happened to the shadow? Did it escape?”
Ah, the shadow.
The Control had created such a big disruption that my mind completely blanked and forgot about the shadow. But now... now I began to feel the anger burning inside of me. “I let it go” I murmured angrily.
“I told him to Val” Helena answered for me. “I sent them a message on a tree telling them The Control was coming with us and told him to let the shadow go”
“It’s for the best” Val conceded. “The Control can’t know about it. At least not now while they’re assessing the five Elementals” I nodded and we all looked towards the forest.
It had been twenty minutes when the sound of crunching from the forest caught our ears. I snapped my head towards the sound and at the same time The Control, Mr Obsidian and the Elementals appeared from between the trees.
“Thank you, Mr Obsidian” Marco thanked the dean. “We have much to think about and will return another time with our conclusion on the... Elementals”
“Of course” Mr Obsidian bowed his head, “Until next time. Shall we?”
“No need. I’m sure we know our way out. Don’t bother yourself walking us out” Tatiana laughed off. The four leaders turned to walk off but I couldn’t help overhear the low muttering between Marco and Sicilianna. It was hard to understand but as they passed us the words ‘unsafe’ and ‘liability’ were clearly stated... and I knew that couldn’t be good.
There was a fair bit of information in this chapter. I do apologise. There was way more but I had to cut some stuff down or cut it out completely and would need to end up putting it in the next chapter... because I’m lazy like that haha.
Pictures on the side of who I’m casting as Marco Amnis, Sicilianna Ardere, Tatiana Solum and Gabriel Sano.
Dedicated to @DonovanCatuncan aka my ‘Papi D’ for making me smile with his purely amazing personality and blush worthy compliments.