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Chapter 15

Raphael’s cabin is immersed in trees, and quite big for a cabin. He ushered us inside and I started to look around for other entrances. Even if he was my father I had to keep my eye on him. He hadn’t proved that we could trust him.

“You all are welcome to any room, except the one with a red door,” Raphael said. “And you are also welcome to my food.”

I nodded in thanks to Raphael. Raphael left the room, and I gathered them around me. I talked in a low voice, “Keep an eye out for anything suspicious. We don’t know if we can trust him yet.”

“He’s your father, Blaze,” Brook argued. “Of course we can trust him.”

“You barely know me, Brook. I don’t trust easily. So keep an eye out. I’m going to go and scout around the perimeter of the house. Get some rest.”

They nodded, Camden and Kalama going to the open concept kitchen, Arden and Brook heading to the couches surrounding a television. I turned, opening and closing the door quietly behind me. The cabin was in a small clearing, so I disappeared into the shaded forest. I climbed up a tree once I about five feet into the forest. I climbed to the very top of the green, leafy tree, poking my head out of the very top. The cabin was in between two floating cities, and, even from here, I could see the skyscrapers.

I looked back to the cabin, watching as Raphael came out, and went to the back of the cabin. I climbed back down the tree and snuck around to the trees surrounding the back of the house. I watched as Raphael picked vegetables from his garden. He came closer towards the edge of trees, where I was hiding, and dropped a tomato a few inches in. Close enough that if he walked in he would see me.

I took a small step back, cracking a stick behind me. Raphael jumped, and I rushed behind a tree. He had grabbed a dagger from his boot. I crept farther into the darker part of the forest until there were only a few spots of sunlight. He eventually ignited a hand so he could see in the darkness. I looped around behind him, igniting my hand with white flames.

“Hello,” I said eerily, making him trip over himself when he turned around. He threw the knife at me, and I dodged it, extinguishing my flame. I reignited my hand, and Raphael relaxed.

“Blaze. You nearly gave me a heart attack.”

“Too bad I didn’t,” I said icily.

He looked saddened at my reply.

“Why are you out here, Blaze?”

“Scouting the perimeter. I don’t trust you, and I wanted to make sure there weren’t any threats out here. Then I saw you come out of the house and got suspicious.”

He walked past me, retrieving his knife. “Why do you hate me so much?” he asked as he retrieved it.

I didn’t hate him, per se. I was furious at him for leaving me. I grew up in a loving household, yes, but I ended up getting my first kill at ten and being abused by her twin sister for five years. That resulted in me being seriously injured and deeply scarred.

“Because you left me,” I said, instead of telling him I didn’t hate him. “You left me in foster care for nine years, and, when I did get adopted, I ended up killing someone with my, then, uncontrollable power. You didn’t help me by leaving me there. I don’t care if Solanna is a bad person who manipulates people, she wouldn’t have left me there, I know that for a fact. I may have been a bad person, but at least I had a loving parent.”

He looked sad and furious at the same time.

“I left you to give you a better life. To have a normal life. And I didn’t want your mother to turn you to her side. She gave over to the dark side of her power. She chose to be that way, and I didn’t want you to not have the choice. Because that is one of the most important things to me. Once I left you at social services I had to escape so that Solanna couldn’t find you. When Ignisa get married we have a ritual where we link out powers, so that we always know where one another are. We can literally track each other. So I had to flee before she could find you. That’s why I left you. And I’ve regretted every day that I did. I’m sorry, Blaze.”

I still didn’t like him, but I was now eyeing up his wings. They were big, lengthwise, and were pure white, so white that you could see them in the dark.

“Why do you have wings?” I asked.

He looked surprised at the question. “They started growing when I was eighteen. It was an extremely painful process, and I had to learn how to use them correctly. It took a lot of conditioning to keep my wings off the ground since they’re very heavy and it takes a lot of muscle to even fly. Luckily, if I want them to, they can disappear so that I don’t always have the strain on my back. The perks of having angel blood, but not being a full-blooded angel. You’ll probably start growing yours when you turn eighteen or shortly afterward. It will be a painful process, but I think you’ll be able to handle it. You seem tough.”

So I would get real angel wings when I turned eighteen? That was awesome but sounded sort of terrifying. And painful.

“So, how can you sense energy?” I asked.

“Well, I’m not really sure, I was just sort of born with the ability,” Raphael replied. “As you probably already know, most of the Laflamme’s, including ones that were married into the family, were Ignisa, so I’m not quite sure where the ability came from. I’ve just always been able to.”

I nodded. It was an interesting ability, especially since he could sense unstable portals and powers. But that could also mean that he could help Brook recover her power.

“Is it possible for you to help Brook recover her power?”

He looked surprised at the question but nodded. “I could try. It might not be perfect, but I could try.”

I nodded, “Brook would be very thankful. She told me she hasn’t been able to control her power since she left the Academy. Let’s head back to the cabin. Camden and Kalama have probably already demolished your kitchen.”

His eyes widened, and he turned quickly, rushing back to his cabin. I smirked in amusement and slowly followed him back to the cabin. When I entered the cabin again, through the front and only door, Camden and Kalama were sitting on the couch devouring a plate of food. Arden was sleeping on the floor, and Brook was sleeping on one of the couches. There were only two couches and a chair in the living room.

Raphael was also in the kitchen cleaning up the mess they had made. The last time I had seen Camden and Kalama in a kitchen they tried to make some noodles and sauce. It wasn’t very successful and they ended up burning both the sauce and undercooking the noodles.

I grabbed my bag, which was by the front door, and took out my swords. If we were going to be here for a day I wanted to get in as much training as I could. I still wasn’t fully recovered, and I needed to improve my strength and cardio. I needed to improve my swordsmanship, too. I was okay, but I wanted to be perfect.

I turned to Kalama and Camden. “I’m going out to practice. You keep watch over these two.” Then I turned to Raphael. “Feel free to wake up Brook. She needs to get a handle on her powers before we have an actual fight.”

Then I walked out, admiring the craftsmanship of the swords. They were beautiful. I would have to get used to the shoulder sheath, but it would be more comfortable on my back than hitting my leg every time I needed to run.

I took off my civilian clothes, leaving me in just my suit. I strapped on my swords and unsheathed them, getting into my stance. Then I started the slow, methodical steps, getting lost in the strain of the swords on my arms. The movement. The idea of getting better, stronger, faster.

Because I had to be perfect. And that would never change.

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