I waited among the drooping willows and desolate graves. The night air was chilling against my jean jacket, and I scolded myself for what seemed to be the eighteenth time about me not wearing proper shoe attire. My near freezing toes wiggled with their black nail polish, an unnatural comparison to my stark white skin. I whispered yet again a small incantation that warmed my body from head to toe, but I knew the effects didn’t last long. I wasn’t going to cut it being a sorceress.
I could hear a rustling nearby, and my heart leaped with anticipation. I should have reprimanded myself for this, I shouldn’t have even come. But I did. Like I always did. Like I probably always would.
The moon overhead was bright, which I was lucky for. It was dangerous to be out during this time of night, alone. And bringing lights was forbidden, a rule him and I came up with almost immediately after everything had happened.
Shifting my position on the worn out fence that surrounded the graveyard, I could hear the crunching of leaves in the distance. A noise not unfamiliar, but something I shouldn’t have been hearing now. Jumping off the aged wood, I squint in the darkness, trying to find a figure or something that might have crinkled the ripe, autumn leaves. But instead I found nothing. The darkness was vacant of anything. I was alone.
Nerves peaking my body now, I shuffled myself quietly over towards the crypt. Hoping that should an unwanted figure appear, I would be well hidden within the shadows. I could cast something, of course it probably wouldn’t last long, but even then, the resonant ringing it gave off would alert anyone from my kind a mile off.
I leaned back against the ivory that climbed the dilapidated stones. The building was cold to a touch, like everything else, yet almost immediately I felt warm all over. And although my defenses should have risen with this feeling, they didn’t. They stayed buried down deep within me. Yet another reason I was failing to pass my exams.
I checked my watch. Again. It seemed like with each meeting, he grew more and more tardy. Perhaps he was growing bored with me, I could understand it, nearly everyone in my village was. Or maybe something had kept him: A suspicious guardian, an overbearing friend, or maybe even the girl we had spoken about last time. My heart lurched and I frowned. No, I would not think about her tonight.
A breeze blew, stirring up leaves that had jumped ship from the safety of their branches. Bored and wondering if he was going to show at all, I played around with the wind. Creating mini tornadoes with the leaves and dirt, wondering if I’d ever be able to create real tornadoes one day.
I bent my knees into a crouching position and began making them quicker, bigger, using everything I knew about my abilities. I was so lost in what I was doing that I forgot to take in my surroundings and keep watch. So when I finally felt a hand on my shoulder, I nearly shouted, fainted, and died all at once. Which might have been a bit dramatic, but still. I was surprised.
Falling over, I maintained to limit the sound coming out of my mouth to a sort of loud gasp. The ground below was hard and chilling, but his presences warmed me all over. Funny how what started out as a defense mechanism for my kind turned out to be a feeling I couldn’t wait to experience.
A husky laugh brought my eyes upward, and a smiling face brought my own lips to a grin I should have been ashamed of. Helping me up, he helped brush the dirt and leaves from my skin before letting out another low laugh my made my eyes light up and my heart skip a beat.
“You know Ava, you shouldn’t scare so easily. Something like that could get you into a lot of trouble.” Enoch grinned a wolfish, toothy smile as I rolled my eyes. Giving his hard, lean muscles a small push, I walked a few feet away from him before turning to stand before him.
The last time we had seen each other was the previous fall. An entire year had passed, and despite the warnings going off in my head, I was excited to finally see him again. Before, we had seen each other every few months. Sometimes every month, but we mostly kept to a tight schedule. As to not get caught or look suspicious.
But then his tribe had to go away. Leave on an unexpected journey across the Barren Sea, and I wasn’t sure when, and if, they were going to return. A year was not much to Enoch. For someone who lived pretty damn close to forever, a year was nothing more than a few weeks in their eyes. But I knew a year could change a person, maybe not him. But me.
In the last year I had turned sixteen, gained the Mark of the Sun, grew an inch, and grew out of that awkward, gangly body I had been trapped in. No longer was I a member of the itty, bitty, titty committee. I finally looked like an adult, even if I didn’t always act like one.
But I could tell Enoch could see these changes in me. I could tell by the way his crystal blue eyes traveled up my body, stopping to admire my curves, my shiny pale hair, and finally lock eyes with me.
He hadn’t changed of course. He still looked the same as he had for the past few years. Same tall, muscular body. And although I grew an inch, I was still tiny compared to him. He had the same tanned skin that I’d know anywhere, even under the pale moonlight. His rustic, shaggy brown hair was pulled back at the nape of his neck, a look he often wore. And his bright eyes were the same. Same brilliant blue color that made my heart melt whenever they landed on mine, a somewhat boring gold color. That ‘often lacked any sort of light, intelligence, or ambition.’ At least that’s what my instructor had been telling me over the years.
“I’m already in trouble. Or I will be if the Order ever finds out about us.” I grinned before running into his arms, throwing my own around him. He was warm to the touch, and the hairs on the back of my neck pricked, just as they always had.
Enoch returned my hug, his strong arms coiling around my nearly fragile body. I knew had he been any other of his kind I’d be dead before I could chant any sort of incantation, but I didn’t like to think about that. “Which won’t ever happen. Especially if you come away with me.” I let out a deep sigh before stepping back. We walked over to a broken down log we had moved to the graveyard years ago, hand in hand, like we had so many other times. But this time, his grip didn’t feel like the overprotective brother figure. This time, it felt different. I liked it.
“You know we can’t,” I reasoned. Before his year long trip, Enoch had wanted to leave. To get away from the Order and his tribe, and run away from everything keeping us apart. We had known each other for so long, been protective of each other for so long, that it felt right. Even if at the time Enoch acted as an older brother, I wanted to be around him. All the time. Not just once under the light of the moon in a graveyard where we had met years previously. “I still need to train. Trust me, I barely passed my first exam and I need to work day and night for this second one.”
Enoch threw his head towards the sky, blinking up at the star speckled darkness above. I bit my lip, I knew he wanted away from his kind as much as I did. We were both just too different, too unsure of our beliefs and rituals. “You know I’ve heard stories of others. Others like us, who left the confines of our kinds. They live together Avalon. Therians and Magick together. I don’t understand why you’re so against this.” I wasn’t sure either. I wanted to go, I wanted to be free with Enoch and live with our two kinds together. But I was afraid. Afraid Enoch would grow bored, tire of me, and want to throw me to the curb. Just like everyone else.
As if sensing my unease and discomfort of the conversation, Enoch wrapped an arm around my middle, bringing me closer to him. And without another word of the others or of leaving, Enoch launched into a story of his adventures and misfortunes during this trip.
I did try to listen, but my mind was also elsewhere. I didn’t understand why I didn’t want to just leave with him. It’s not as if I had anyone or anything holding me here. I didn’t have a family, just an instructor who I’m pretty sure disliked my existence. I didn’t have any friends, the Magicks my age usually just looked past me, already labeling me a screw up, a waste, a runt who shouldn’t have made it.
And they were right, I shouldn’t have made it. As a baby, I was born to two powerful, but sick Magicks. The three of us lived just outside the village, in a little cottage all by ourselves. And from what I assumed, it was wonderful. My parents, although sick, were loving, and caring, and didn’t mind that I was born too small, too soon. They loved me, or I assumed they loved me, until the day everything happened.
From what I’ve gathered, I was five. The three of us were strolling along the woods, careful to be on our side of the woods. But there had been an attack. We found a few dead bodies of sorcerers and sorceresses already, the smell of blood and iron strong in the air. My parents didn’t like what they found, so we turned around, ready to head back to the safety of our home. They would have stayed, sought revenge on those who killed our own kind, but they were sick. The ailment which killed my kind was running through their veins and they tired quickly.
Halfway home was when the attack began. A Therian approached us in wolf form, ready to pounce. I was told to run. Run away and not look back no matter what I heard. And I just accepted this. I ran, my small legs barely able to hold myself up took me far away from the noise and the smell of blood and iron.
When I finally collapsed from exhaustion, I was in the graveyard. It was a place between both of our lands where neither kind could fight. There I found myself laying on the ground, unsure of what to do or where to go. I was too young, too small, too scared to be left without a family. And that’s when Enoch came. He came as a wolf, a deep brown instead of the all black one that murdered my family, but I was still afraid. I cowered away from him, hiding in a small alcove of dirt and grime in one of the crypts.
While I was five, Enoch looked about ten. His kind aged slower than mine, something that always seemed so strange and foreign for me. But Enoch, now in his human form, walked over to me, a frown on his lips, and worry lines creasing his beautiful face. I might have screamed, and cried but I didn’t really remember. All I knew was that Enoch risked everything to carry my small, too scared to move body back to my village. He knew it meant death to bring me all the way there, but he got as far as he dared, before letting me go.
It would be two years before I saw him again, but I never stopped thinking out him. And to this day he was basically all I could think about. So it didn’t make sense as to why I was so against going with him. I should have been all for it.
“Did you hear that?” I had been so involved in my inner confusion that I actually hadn’t heard a word from Enoch. Looking up from the ground I had been studying, I was surprised to see that the early rays of light were rising from the horizon.
Now Enoch stood, ready to take on anything that might stand in his way. Wary now, I stood too, pricking my ears to see if I heard anything as well. And I did. It was faint, and somewhat far away, but I heard it. The slight rustling of leaves, footsteps and hurried ones at that. People were coming, and we were in trouble.
“Enoch…” My voice wavered, my insides twisting with nerves. I was afraid. The hairs on the back of my neck pricked, while a feeling of despair washed over me. Therians were coming. As were my kind.
“Avalon,” Enoch’s voice was steady, as was his stance. “We need to get out of here. I, I think they found us.” The feud between our kinds was lethal. It went back centuries, back to when Magicks first created Enoch’s kind. They were meant to be servants. The kind who would work alongside their sorcerer or sorceress and abide by their rules. Whatever they may be. Turns out, no one likes to be held down, no matter if that was your sole purpose in life. The Therians revolted, they waged a war between them and their masters. And they won.
Years later, and the bitterness between the two was still so strong. People were killed for as little as talking to the other kind. If either of our kind knew about our meetings, well, the results weren’t looking good for either of us.
“I think, I think we need to…” But I didn’t know. Do we hide? Do we fight? Run? Both our kinds were bloodthirsty, power hungry individuals. All that mattered was being the best and most powerful. If a fight like this ensued, a war would begin. Both kinds were itching to start something, all they needed was a final catalyst. And that was something I wanted no part of.“Leave.” Enoch’s voice brought a calmness over me and I nodded my head. He was right. We needed to leave. Now.