Tarts

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Chapter Four

Chapter Four


Traveling in this world was… interesting. They didn’t cars but most roads weren’t paved in the first place. People with transportation like forms would use those, horses or some weird mount called Chalas and the most popular way was gatekeepers, like my Gram who were paid to help people get around using mirrors or summoning doors.

We just walked, as Woodgrove was only two miles from the school and J wanted to show us some scenery along the way.

And I had to say, it as worth it; to the north, mountains topped with snow and sprinkled with pine trees towered over everything else; J said the south had a jungle, lush trees and freaky fruits, not to mention creatures that lurked; she also mentioned the west, home to the volcanic plains. No one went there unless they had a bounty or frugalous trade deal. Otherwise, it was left to wolves. Lastly, the oceans to the east, and I was able to hear the calming sound of the waves caressing the sand and the seagulls cawing. Apparently, the ocean was nothing like the one in the Earth me and Griffin knew. Besides the rat birds.

Of course, there was curious lands in between but J said we best stick to Woodgrove and the surrounding area for now. Griffin and me both agreed, be it grudgingly.

By the time we left in the morning, the sun was just starting to rise. I was the one that had to find Auggie, which was more difficult than one would think. He wasn’t at his home, this odd looking place beside a clothing store. I managed to find him in the schools giant-ass garden, purple plants that spilled over with bright orange fruits and regular old watermelon plants.

Of course, Auggie was cautious at first but then decided it best to come with, considering there was almost no way to talk J out of it in the first place. So, I managed to get my uncle to tag along, still unaware of what he could do. Yes, because that wasn’t crucial information at all.

The town was just up ahead, you could see strings of christmas lights that weren’t twinkling but blowing about in the breeze, street lamps holding them together. People seemed to be waking up, milling about. The homes were just as odd, most of them having a similar look to the Weasley’s home.

Now that I thought about, a lot of this stuff reminded me of Harry Potter but with a more rustic, deadly tone. It made my insides squirm, really, it did.

J then took a steep left turn through an alley that lead out of town and soon we were deep into the rich, dark woods that seemed to house most of this so called province. Glowing blue mushrooms scoured the ground, little red furry dots with large space-like eyes scuttle about with deers whose horns glowed fluorescent pink, orange and lime green. It was beautiful, in its own right.

“The forest is normally peaceful. And don’t worry, the deers are only different in looks not taste. But the farther you go… then it changes. Drastically but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore, especially for practice.” J stated as the trees began to seem like they were melting, turning to stone with this icky black goo running down what was left of the bark. Some of the trees had splintered and others were just stone - petrified of something unknown.

My muscles tightened as trees began to look flattened, some parts looking like the start of paper. Something felt wrong. It felt… it felt like anxiety, to be quite frank.

J stopped, all of us doing the same. Auggie grabbed my shoulder, his face looking pale.

“Nat, whatever you do, don’t advance. Let us go first. You don’t know what your powers are yet. And stay calm most of all, or transforming will be painful.” Auggie whispered to me, his eyes looking sad.

Griffin looked at me, holding his nostrils shut but nodded at Auggie in understanding.

And then a scream that made my ears begin to bleed cut through the forest, high-pitched and long. Like broken wind chimes.

The Grove appeared, tall, gangly and skinny. You could see the ribs and its legs were more like toothpicks with a pointy end. Its eyes were huge, black nothingness and its back seemed to protrude like a hunchback. It’s tongue lolled out the side of its mouth, long and grape purple. It’s pennywise teeth were soaked in blood.

I stood, ridgid. I felt like a fox that had been trapped. Griffin beside me, well, he screamed. It made the warm liquid running down from my ears worse.

Auggie rolled up his sleeves, his tattoos soon melted away into the real thing. He was covered in bright purple scales, like amethyst. Wings flared on his back, tail at attention. He had taken off his bowtie, the purple cloth was no longer a bowtie anymore.

It had too long ribbons on the end, like a whip. Small, metal hooks lined the back side and the bowties cloth itself was now a gleaming steel. I was very confused, to say the least.

I stared at my uncle, who had worn a ripped t-shirt for the bounty. When I had seen it, it was odd at first that most of the back was missing but now? Not so much.

Auggie split the bowtie whip thing in half, two long, deadly whips and he ran

Forward, wrapping them around the Grove’s neck and two legs. The creature howled in pain, breaking free of the legs bonds.

Auggie flew backwards, using his tail to catch a tree branch and launch into the sky with his wings. The scales glittered in the sunlight like a rainbow.

J sighed, taking out what seemed to be two revolvers. They were black, lined with this pungent, smoking green edge at the barrel and a pearly white handle. J twirled them about as Sully took out two shurikens, a deep purple and they seemed to radiate with sorrow.

Sully, before I knew it, had ink flowing all around him. He threw one of the shurikens, hitting the Grove under the neck and soon a deep gash began to form, dripping rotted flesh and smelling like week old throw-up. Then a large, half-dome shield appeared in front of me and Griffin, a light grey. Sully looked at us and smiled, running into the fray as J was throwing enlarged thorns from roses that traced her neck and collar bone.

“Wow. It’s so…” Griffin said, losing his words as my uncle pulled the ribbon tighter on the Groves neck, the creature screeching and lashing out with its tongue.

“It’s horrifyingly brilliant.” I finished for him, watching the swift movements of my uncle.

The Grove lashed it’s tongue, knocking Auggie out of the air and crashing into the shield that Sully had set up. He stayed slouched but got back up, his tail lashing about angrily.

My muscles tensed and heat rushed through every fiber of my body as I watched the fight continue. Seeing him get hurt had made me upset and antsy.

Griffin sucked in a deep breath as the Grove broke through the ribbons, lashing its tongue at the nearest tree and petrified it.

J jumped backwards as splinters flew everywhere, a look of disgust on her face.

Auggie flew forward, wrapping the ribbons around the Grove’s body. It shrieked again, ears bleeding even more. The red liquid rolled down the side of my face, warm and sticky. I wished it could at least cover my ears to muffle the sound but its not like that was reasonable.

But I felt the warm blood start going up, making a perfect ear plug for both of my ears and muffling the sound greatly. I sighed, freaked out but glad for the softening of the loud noise.

Griffin looked at me, eyes wide at my ears but as he looked back, the Groves tongue lashed forward and broke the shield. I tackled Griffin, moving us both behind a tree right before the tongue split in two, the middle as sharp as a steel sword.

We both froze, scared. The tongue inched closer and closer but I could tell they were trying to bring the beast back as the tongue would move forward then back a bit then forward. You get where I’m going with that.

But then the tongue disappeared and we both peaked out from behind the tree, the Grove now trapped on the ground from the ribbons that were clawing deeper into its dark, welted-covered skin with every movement.

J then reloaded her revolver with some bullet that was glowing gold and shot the creature in the head. It turned to ash, the only thing left was its teeth which were stained with blood.

As J picked up the leftover components (I guess that what you would call, I’m not really sure people), Auggie sighed as he spread his wings over his head to help keep the sun away. He looked at me and his expression was more beast than man.

The three of them walked over, wiping off blood as J handed out four small vials of glittering gold water. Auggie downed his, as did Sully. J slowly sipped the weird concoction as me and Griffin just stared at the weird liquid.

“Go on, drink it! Don’t worry, my rose petals are safe for consumption and weapon work of all sorts. Trust me, it’s worth it.” J insisted, ushering us with her hands as she tucked away the empty vials into a regular brown pouch beside the blue one that emitted a frosty air.

I drank the vile first, the liquid tasting warm and felt smooth against my tongue. It was pleasant and warmed my body like coffee. Griffin then did the same, wiggling his eyebrows about as he drank the liquid.

J couldn’t hold back a chuckle and neither could I as he handed back the vile. J smiled. “So?” She asked, hands on her hips as Sully sauntered up beside her.

“I liked it. Warm and smooth, pleasant to the body.” I stated, Griffin nodding in agreement.

“Exactly! Of course, from what I’ve found in my research, the effects will be more pleasant the worse the injuries the person has. I just hope I’ll have enough stored away for the candy making…” She mumbled to herself as Auggie gave me another hug and then gave Griffin a hug whose eyes went wide at the affection.

“Thoughts, kiddo? I know it’s… alarming. The world isn’t really a world in itself, it just seems to draw from others. Sorry J dragged you into this bounty on your first week. Not,” He said, glaring at J who pretend like she had something better to do. “A great first idea. But your form should be similar to mine and your father’s, specifically.” He told me, everything seeming to get quiet at the mention of my father.

I didn’t say anything in response but noticed that his tail was curled around his one leg, wings drooping. And he had horns the glowed white on the underside, twirling and twisting.

Auggie looked back at me, smiling weakly but soon his face turned to confusion as he looked at my ears. J started walking away, Sully following suit so we sauntered along with them toward the town but he didn’t take his eyes of my ears.

“How’d you…” But he couldn’t finish his sentence as he began to get deep into thought. I rubbed the weird plugs in response, them feeling smooth like a polished gem.

“It was too loud. The screeching from the Grove was… it made my ears begin to bleed. I wanted it to stop. And then it just… did that.” I told him, stilling running my fingers over the smooth substance. Maybe I was a freak.

Auggie was lost in thought now, his ribbon thing now back into a bowtie. It was intriguing, to say the least.

The trees seemed to wave softly in the wind, a small hello to any birds and travelers that passed by. The ground was surprisingly comfortable to walk on, since by this time we’re back on the streets of Woodgrove.

More people were meandering about, some carrying bags but most seemed to be preparing for Halloween by decorating. But there was one person walking about with a lost look in their eyes.

The man walked over to us, on his knees. “Please, please. Make it all stop. Please, I’ve lost my Maggie. Please...” He begged us, tears streaming down his face. No one looked at the man that was in front of us, giving no care.

One woman looked over at him, a disgusted look on her face as her head bobbed like a chicken. Another person looked over, pity in their eyes. They noticed us, calling out.

“He lost his wife to the Grove. He survived the battle. She didn’t.” And they scuttled away, as if helping to comfort someone was worse than decorating for some holiday.

J sighed, taking out another small vile but it had a pinkish tint to it. She handed it to the tear-stained man in front of us who whimpered.

She told him to drink it and he would feel better in a bit. He took it, smiling so widely and took a small sip but then downed the rest of it in one go. He sighed in relief as the vile rolled across the ground, J picking it up.

“It relaxes the nerves, helps the mind think clearer. C’mon, the original bounty giver is over this way.” She told us and lead us through the streets to another odd home the color of mangos.

J knocked on the door, a gruff looking man standing in front of us. He wore an eyepatch; his long, grey hair in a messy bun and stubble covered the lower half of his face. He seemed tired, irritable so. The age in his face was easy to see as he leaned against the door frame, the sun hitting his face.

He glared at me and Griffin but smiled at J who held up the bounty.

The man snorted. “No way you can complete, Jelly. Ten people have already died trying to-” but he stopped in seeing Auggie try to move me behind him with his wings. “Augustus, what are you doing?” The man asked, glaring at him with his one eye, beconing J to move.

Auggie shuffled about, his tail wrapping around his hand. He nodded his head toward J who pulled out the teeth and leftover chunk of tongue.

The man’s eyes seemed skeptical as he took the teeth, digging them into the door frame and smelling the tongue. “So, you did it. With the help of Augustus. Who kidnapped him?” He asked, tilting his head with an accusing glance toward J.

“Before we start pointing fingers, I came on my own, with some convincing from Nayleth.” Auggie said right as J opened her mouth, bringing me back forward.

The man looked at me, rather taken aback. He grabbed each of us, one by one, pushing us into the house.

“Sit down, you imbeciles. I’ll let you pick your armor or weapon in a moment, relax.” He told Sully and J who were just about bouncing in there seats. He walked over to a table and picked up a wad of cash, diverting it out to each of, not giving Auggie any but he didn’t seem to mind, as he was playing peekaboo with an exceedingly small snake.

The man coughed, Auggie’s attention coming back. The little snake seemed sad with its horns that were too big for its head but slithered away to a larger snake that was hiding in a corner of the room.

“Nayleth, wonderful to meet you. Your father was always boasting about his child,” He said, looking at me, running his eyes up and down my body. “And I can see why. You’ve got the family gift, for sure.

“And Claric. Good to see you, boy. I hope Ace and Blitz get back from patrol soon. They’ve been waiting years to see there boy. Seems like your forms taken a mind of its own though… hmm, maybe it’s from your grandma…” The man wittled off, rubbing his chin.

Griffin just looked at me and I at him, perplexed at this man and curious as to what he mean by our forms.

“Um, sir, what do you mean they’ve been waiting? I thought they died?” Griffin asked the man, who looked at him with a bewildered expression.

“Your parents are alive, boy, mind you; a wars a war and we need our best generals out there. Lucky for you, their names aren’t just for show. Got some luck in them, they do. Oh, yeah, names Quintis, Quintis Mane.” he told us, getting up from his rocking chair to water a nearby plant that seemed like it would eat the nearest arm.

Auggie shuffled about in his seat beside me again, seeming uncomfortable. His horns were not glowing at this point, but his wings were tucked in to keep from bumping into things.

Quintis then looked at him and glared, turning back to us as Sully was chasing the baby snake, J examining the plant that seemed like it would eat the nearest arm.

“Auggie, these two really need to at least learn their basic powers if they want to live in this world. C’mon, the barracks are open and I’m sure some soldiers wouldn’t mind helping you. Now that I think about it, Diana would be great.” Quintis told us, both J and Sully’s head snapping up at the sound of their mother’s name.

“Yes, we are going to see your mother, relax.” Quintis said but the both of them were already dragging us out of the rough home, the man with an eyepatch chuckling behind us.

As we walked out the door, Quintis yelled out to us. “Hey, Nayleth! Be careful! Bloodletting is a dangerous talent! Don’t wanna die, now do ya? Oh, and Diana will give you your reward!” He said, chuckling gruffly before coughing.

I felt my skin get goosebumps after I heard what he said to me. Dying? I could die from… whatever I could do? Well, that was comforting, really, it was. Just what I wanted to know.

Auggie lead us down the streets, people murmuring at the sight of his vibrant scales. Other pointed at me, whispering or pointing out that Griffin was still keeping his nose closed. I gave him a funky look but he didn’t say anything.

I wondered about this place. I mean, at this point, it kinda had to be real. I couldn’t make something like this up and something about it just… it just seemed like it was supposed to be but then again that it wasn’t supposed to be.

A snake slithered past, wearing a pirates hat. It seemed happy to be slithering about, no worries or confusion.

We soon came upon a large, viking-like building that look drastically different from the rest. It didn’t seem cocky or homely. It seemed like it was built for a purpose and loomed over everything else in its proximity.

Torn, blue banners cascaded down the edges of the dark wood that composed most of the building, clear windows that seemed invisible to the eye lined most of the walls. It stood rather tall and I could hear men complaining about cuts and bruises, impatient for water.

I laughed, one of them cursing loudly at an opposed friend. Auggie looked at me weirdly and I just said the men behind the building were being funny. He looked away in understanding, licking his lips.

As we approached the building we headed to the back, the sound of the men getting louder. Thank God the weird ear plug things were still in my ears, or I don’t think I wouldn’t of had ears anymore. Even if it made my stomach queasy.

The back of the building was covered in soldiers, a good amount wearing what seemed to be leather or cloth armor, some also wearing some sort of armor made of metal. Most were sweaty, seemingly begging for water.

A large tent was set off to the side, food and water covering it. One table was covered in what seemed to be medical herbs, drinks and so on, manned by a woman with hair as yellow as the sun, eyes that looked like J’s and a smile like Sully.

She yelled out to one of the women who was holding a double-edged sword, her arms and legs the skeleton of her body, wispy silver running in and out of the bones edges. She limped over to the woman who gave her some water and this green, slimy substance that she coated over one off her legs. She sighed in relief, the woman with sunshine hair scolding the skeletal woman.

She sent her away, not limping anymore but she wandered over to front of the building, the sound of a door softly closing shut the only sign that she went in.

The woman started mixing these glowing green leaves, a few cuts down her arm when I noticed that she seemed immensely tired, bags under her eyes that seemed worried. Her hair was frazzled, dirty with mud and small specks of blood as well.

We shuffled over to her, Auggie shouting a hello. The woman smiled in response, glad to see him and walked around the table to give him a hug. Letting go, she immediately saw a few cuts left over from the Grove, scolding him and handed him some bandages when she noticed the four of us standing behind Auggie.

She just about broke my ears again at the sight of J and Sully. She gave them the biggest hug, immediately seeming less worried and stressed then before. J and Sully hugged her right back, me and Griffin both seemingly uncomfortable as we waited.

So, this woman was Diana. I saw so much J in her, well lots of her in J, from what I knew. But she seemed a little bit more laid back and stern compared to her daughter. There was no blue in her hair, then again, the blue in Sully’s hair was most likely dye.

“Sorry about the surprise, Diana. Quintis sent us over to help these two,” He said, pointing to me and Griffin who waved hello. “Get a hand over their powers and stuff. Figured some of the soldiers would help but I’ll be taking Nayleth.” He told her, Diana peeking her head over to look at us.

She smiled widely, I now noticing that many places all over her body was covered in pale yellow skin, kind of like the deer antlers that glowed back in the forest. Diana walked over to Griffin, giving him a large hug. He seemed surprised by the affection again but slowly returned the hug. Diana then came over to me, her smile growing and the weird spots of skin began to glow a pale yellow.

“It’s wonderful to meet the both of you. And did June not give you any Gloom Stone paste for your ears?” She tssts, taking a small tin container labeled GS paste, opening it to a grey paste with small clumps of something amber colored. She dipped her fingers in, gently applying the past to the outer edges of my ears, pausing when she saw the odd earplugs but continued to apply the paste, my ears getting a warm feeling.

She then turned to Griffin, applying some to Griffin’s nose that he was plugging with his fingers. He seemed startled but allowed her to do so, after the paste applied he was no longer scrunching his nose.

Putting the tin away, she took out another one that looked shiny and fresh, tossing it to J who caught it, nodding a thanks and stored it into the small brown pouch.

“There, now your ears shouldn’t hurt as much and smells should be easier to manage. Considering your Father’s passive gifts - your Uncle’s as well - and Griffin’s parents too, your most likely two very strong individuals. But we may need to hunt down some of our better soldiers to help teach you two.” She pondered, bringing up the touchy subject of parents.

Griffin seemed off, nervous almost but he stuck close to as the other three wandered off and Diana lead us through the training soldiers to the very back where two woman, both covered in heavy armor, sparring with gleaming greatswords of emerald and diamond color.

“Hey! Merida! Agatha! Help these two out, will you? Basic training. Halloween break is upon us so they can’t be taking the classes.” Diana told them then trotted away toward J, who was helping a soldier mend a completely crushed leg. Sully was somehow on the roof of an overhand to the main building, his book open and observing the field.

The two women smiled, sheathing the swords. After introduction, and the notion of family brushed away, they started the lesson.

From what they told us, it was difficult to figure out your two to four passive skills, mostly passed down from birth but could stem out. They normally appeared while in battle, some things rarer than others.

They showed us what there forms were, Agatha being able to easy interpret any language, as well as spell books. Merida, on the other hand was extremely adept at archery and blacksmithing. She, according to Agatha, had beaten the best blacksmith in the land five times.

Both were equally as terrifying, Merida’s sword changing into a bow at the slight flit of a hand, Agatha reciting spells left and right.

Me and Griffin were both exhausted by the end of it, heaving for breath. They tried their

best not to harm us, only a few cuts up and down our arms. Neither seemed to bothered that we didn’t even have a weapon.

Agatha stopped over unleashing a hex that caused our entire body to feel like it was covered with pins and needles. I don’t like being pin cushion.

“You guys don’t have weapons, do you?” She asked, I noticing an odd mixture of Irish and Jamaican in her voice.

Griffin shook his head, telling her that we had completed a bounty but never got the reward.

Both of the women scoffed, dragging us toward the blacksmith set in the yard. This woman’s entire body was made of what looked like volcanic rock, diving into the forge to fish out fallen metals.

She looked over, lifting up the rather useless head mask. She frowned but stopped her work, cooling the product; her hair was as white as snow, a great contrast to the black rock of her body.

“Auggie just came over about the reward. I’ll get cooking on weapons for the both of you, how ’bout it? Hmm, thinking a bronze greatsword for you, Claric. Yeah, turns into a shield… Nayleth, you’ll be interesting. If your Father’s genes are as strong as Auggie’s saying, you’ll want something stealthy, swift. Seems like you’d like that either way though.” The woman told us, flipping down the mask and turning away.

Agatha thanked her, turning away to lead us into a slightly bigger clearing. “That was Snow. She and Merida do a lot of the blacksmithing, but Snow in particular. She has this knack of knowing what weapon a person will prefer, and the discreet for it. Most think it’s her passive ability but Snow has never actually told us otherwise.” She told us, sitting down in the soft grass as she motioned for us to sit down as well.

Agatha and Merida both realized, by this point, it was going to be far more difficult to figure out our passive abilities for when we weren’t in our form. I then noticed that Merida had a long cut running down her cheek.

I looked at the blood wishing she knew that it was bleeding. I wonder if she needed a bandage… something to covered the blood would be nice, even just a scab.

And right on cue, the blood began to collect, forming a small, gleaming makeshift scab on her cheek. It gleamed in the sunlight, sparkling an eerie red. Merida wrinkled her nose as it finished but didn’t try to stop it. If she could do that. Could she?

Griffin seemed unsettled as he shuffled about beside me, the clashing of swords and uttering of spells sounding behind us.

Merida said nothing as they showed us their weapons. Apparently, there this thing called a discrete. Each weapon could be turned into something small, something that only that person was known for, be it a pen or bowtie. The discrete isn’t required but was apparently very helpful since few people outside of this region actually used them.

Agatha’s discreet was a simple little blank journal that could fit into a pocket. All she had to do was pull it out shake it quickly and her sword would appear. Merida didn’t have one, also explaining that some weapons you could actually see them transform.

I thought back to Auggie’s bowtie. “Like a bowtie?” I asked them, itching to get up from the grass. My legs had fallen asleep and I had had enough of the pins and needles thank you very much.

“Yes! Auggie has one of the more widely known discreets, beside the headmaster of your wonderful school, Mark. His- well, you’ll see eventually. But yes. Most students choose one, most likely chapstick, lipstick, a necklace and so on and so forth.” Agatha told me, putting the blank journal back into a pocket. Her armor was gone by this point, her having whispered a small incantation.

Snow came wandering over, Merida taking her place at the forge. In her hands she held a beautiful bronze greatsword, the hilt wrapped in a supple dark leather studded with a white marble. Along the edge of the sword words were written.

“What’s on it?” Griffin asked, holding back from grabbing it.

Snow smiled, giving him the sword. “You’ll see when you train or fight. You’ll just need to be in a sticky situation is all. Or overblown emotions. My finest bronze and the leather has been worked just enough to give a comfortable grip. Won’t find a better balanced greatsword anywhere else, that’s for sure.” She told Griffin who was clumsily testing the sword, dropping it on his foot and howled with pain. The sword clattered to the ground as Griffin tried his best to help the large gash in his foot. The sword glinted in the sunlight, something warm coming off of it.

Griffin’s cries alerted J who just about ran over five of the soldiers dueling in the yard. She immediately told him to stay calm, that it was just a large gash. That didn’t help him as he began to squirm, the sword seemingly letting off smoke.

“Griffin, stop! Jeez-” But she stopped talking as we all noticed the small but dark burn spots scattered across his skin. She didn’t saying thing else as he squirmed, trying to get away from her grip. I soon had to help her as Agatha and Merida just watched, stunned at the scene before them. Snow seemed scared to pick up the sword as the smoke began to billow.

As J wrapped a bandage around his foot after stitching it, she softly patted his shoulder. His blood was darker, seemingly sticky against the bonds that held it.

He whimpered as he realized his shoe wouldn’t be able to do its job after sword made a long gash in it. Griffin sat on the ground, not moving as he stared at his foot, fumbling with his broken shoe.

J sighed getting up and told me to keep an eye on his foot while she went to find him some shoes. Griffin told her his shoe size and she marched away, more firm then bouncy then before.

Griffin turned around and gently picked up the sword which had stopped smoking at this point. He gently held it, running his fingers over the smooth blade. He smiled at it, as if it hadn’t cause questions about him to surface.

Snow watched him as he stood the sword up, admiring the craftsmanship. The words along the swords blade glittered in the sun and he stood up, using the sword to help him balance. The sword then clashed inside itself, and soon it was a beautiful - perhaps elegant - walking cane.

Griffin looked at it, confused. But he seemed intrigued by it nonetheless.

Snow seemed to smile at her handy work, but her eyes seemed sad. “Sometimes they’ll take forms that you may need in the future. It’s the magic that decides, not me. Even if it helps me make them.” And she turned to me as Griffin leaned on his weapon.

She handed me a bow, much different from Merida’s. Mine seemed more traditional, much less a modern bow. It was sleek, the inside extremely sharp at edges glinted with intricate gold outlines. The hilt was also wrapped in leather, this one darker. The bow was made out of darkly stained glass.

“That’s Gilded Island glass. I normally have to get it imported but it’s worth it for its dexterity and magical capabilities. That bow should prove extremely useful in more ways than one. If you need to, just gently tug the bow in opposite ends and it will turn into daggers. Griffin, just go sword in the stone with your great sword and you’ve got a shield that should provide excellent coverage.” Snow commented, sitting down as Griffin leaned on his sword cane.

I looked at the elegant work of weaponry in my hands. It felt well balanced but I had never even handle a bow before, much less daggers. And magic? Sure. Then again, the blood thing was weird so why was I even questioning it?

J came back over this time dragging Sully with, Auggie trailing behind as he noticed our weapons. He saw Griffin’s cane and his face went pale but quickly composed himself. Griffin look at Auggie and his eyes went wide. He went to ask him a question but didn’t, seemingly afraid.

Auggie thanked Snow, who rolled her eyes at him. J came wandering back with a pair of shoes, which just barely fit his feet. Griffin gingerly put his foot in, wincing when he put it on too quickly.

He got back up, using the cane as support. He smiled, seemingly glad for it.

I held the bow in my hands, pulling back the drawstring that, apparently, was made from those weird snakes scales. Snow said they made great drawstrings, once the scales were melted and worked, they were dexterous and flexible.

Lifting the bow over my head, the drawstring clung to my chest. It felt tight but I just hoped it wouldn’t hurt the bow.

Snow laughed at my odd posture. “Don’t worry about arrows. There’s two runes on your bow, one for spectral arrows and one for a discreet. Your’s will be rather… interesting, I think. Just take the bow, and if you are swift enough, with a flick of your wrist, it should transform. Like what Agatha did.” She said, nodding toward the woman.

Taking off the bow, I flicked my wrist up and it flew out of my hand. In a loud pop, it was now a necklace. A chain of snake scales, a line of Gilded Island glass with similar edges for the main piece, along with the gold on the edges.

“Huh…” I said, curious. I ripped of the necklace from the base piece, the bow immediately reappearing. “Neat.” I mumbled, admiring the handy work. Snow was something else. And I don’t know if that was good or not.

After the necklace was back around my neck, Sully came wandering over. He seemed… In awe. Well, intrigued. He saw me, and a wide smile appeared on his face and ran over.

He opened his book to a wide page, the battlefield shown. He had drawn the battlefield, the main focus on me and Griffin trying to figure out our passive abilities. It was amazing how well he had done. I ran my fingers over the parchment, baffled. Griffin glanced over and grinned. He went to grab something but his face fell.

His notebook.

“We can get a new one,” I told him, Sully looking between us curiously. “Ok?”

Griffin nodded his head and Auggie saying we should get back to town. That we had some things to attend to. Not that I knew what those things were, of course.

He dragged us over, thanking Snow and the other two. Snow grunted in response but smirked, Agatha and Merida laughing with a friendly goodbye wave. And as we walked out, Diana noticed us leaving.

“You’re leaving me? You know better Agustus! Especially with your niece! She needs to talk to Mark!” She yelled as we walked away faster and faster. Auggie tried covering my ears but by this time, the paste had started to wear away and I heard those words as clear as day. But then she added on. “And you’d best send message to Blitz and Ace about Claric! That boy needs some proper love in his life! You know better than this Augustus! You know better!” She yelled.

He knows better? Better than what, exactly? And we were leaving, we had spent almost the entire afternoon and some of the evening there. I didn’t notice a problem. Or maybe that was the issue. And Griffin’s parents? How would we contact them anyways? I had not one clue how these people communicated over long distances yet and honestly, someone tell me please. It’s really starting to bother me. A lot is, actually.

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