16: Good Before Dawn
The wagons had moved into the woods, and off the main roads, the movement had slowed down as a new route had to be forged through the thicker vegetation and rougher terrain. As the sun sphere set, the camp had been set up, and guard watches were assigned to each team.
The third watch was set up for Master Martin’s team; Andrea and Oliver had no real problem seeing in the dark. Varriss and Clara had taken off to do a ‘Patrol’ in the nearby woods. This was just an excuse to have some personal time alone with each other.
“So, how did your flight go with Charmeine?” Oliver asked Andrea.
Andrea responded, “Good, he is a talented flier, better than me, at least with these magical wings. He’s a descendant from Toluene and sadly betrothed. Unfortunate for me he has a strong sense of morals; I had an excellent idea of a night flight with just him and me. Loving each other up in the night sky, It would be so romantic.” Andrea closed her eyes, smiled, then claps her hands and held them to her heart, “Though I think I may just be attracted to his wings, so feathery.” Andrea was considering changing her winged flight spell to be feathery wings. Feathers are so much more angelic and less scary.
“You have said that about just about everyone here.” He had a bit of a laugh.
“I know you warned everybody to avoid my advances. I have not been using the charms on them as instructed.” Andrea paused and moved up to Oliver and leaned against his shoulder. “I don’t know if I am lucky or not; Charmeine tells me that the Hand of God does not have any free will. I am not sure if Katalina is trying to make me stronger to be her proper meat puppet. In my conversations with her, I don’t get that feeling. Though she has been called the God of Lies.” she looked up at him. “I will need to feed soon; it’s been three days, nothing to snack on.”
Oliver looked down on her, “We should go before dawn. The stones are charged.” Andrea smiled. Oliver continued, “Everybody is asleep at this time.” She grabbed his hands and let out a bit of a grunt as she tried to drag him forward off of his seat on the wagon.
He looked defeated, “You are right.” he got up and hopped off the wagon, “Clara, Varriss, we will be back shortly. We got to wait. They are not the only ones who sneak off in the night. We may all die tomorrow; some are enjoying this night. Most warriors do take what they can get. I saw Master Raven and Master Hoko come back from their 'patrol' a while back and a few others as well. They have been a couple for a long time; they always don’t see eye to eye on things. Though she is the voice of reason, Hoko is her man of action.”
Clara entered the camp first, followed by Varriss. Her red hair was messed up and filled with pieces of grass and a few yellow dandelion flowers. She was also scratching along her long legs. Varriss followed a few steps behind; bits and pieces of local vegetation fell off him and returned to the earth as well; he was still trying to straighten his shirt.
“Ohh, I like those flowers in your hair; they really bring out the red,” Andrea remarked, pointing at Clara. Clara quickly plucked out the yellow flowers and dropped them to the ground.
Clara said in her warning voice, “You saw nothing.”
Master Martin, “So nothing to report I take it all clear?”.
Clara said in her usual calm voice, “No nothing, nada, empty, clear, just a void. Nothing worth waking the camp for.”
Varriss reported as well, “Nope, all clear out there.”
“Andrea and I are going to walk the perimeter as well. Shout if you need something.” Both of them headed off deeper into the woods.
“I hope she does not eat him.” Varriss speaks, “I mean, I have seen her hungry, and that's a scary thing, and Master Martin did not take any ice water buckets either.”
Clara nodded in agreement as she found another flower and flicked the offending yellow plant to the ground.
The owls hooted in the nighttime sky, bats circling above echoed looking for their nightly meals, and crickets could be heard making their chirping sounds trying to attract a mate. The woods were sparsely populated by green leafy trees but provided enough cover for Andrea and Oliver's doing.
Both Andrea and Oliver sat cross-legged facing each other, holding hands, bare skin exposed, fingers collapsed around each other. Andrea’s eyes glowed with her crimson feeding color. Her fangs, claws, tail, and wings had extended as they do when she feeds. She was concentrating on maintaining her control while the stones drained. She did not show a hint of emotion; she was better at feeding this way now. “This is much simpler,″ she said. “No need to control the narrative, stop the meals’ pain, only myself to control. Katalina says I will eventually need only to contract to activate the draining touch, no more gloves. I will be able to touch people again. My body is still evolving. I am seriously thinking about taking Charmeine as mine. I need someone who will touch me, someone who is not afraid of me.” The gems on both of the magical chokers glowed that they both wore. She kept her crimson eyes on Oliver's eyes. Each stared deeply into each others gazes.
Andrea used these session with Oliver to control the emotions that raged when she fed, her meditation techniques helped. The only one screaming in her mind was herself as the stolen life essence drained into her body.
“The gems are almost empty; time to stop,” Oliver spoke. Something in Oliver's mind told him that was wrong.
She stopped the link, and she retracted her claws, fangs, and scorpion barbed tail. “I am going to go do some more flying about, before dawn. I want to stretch my wings. Do you want me to escort you back to the camp?”
“No, I will be fine.” He replied with his calm demeanor.
Andrea responded by extending and stretching her red leathery wings outward, “Then see you back at camp!”.
Oliver watched as she bolted upwards and climbed into the sky, up and over the tree line. He headed back through the thick foliage.
Oliver returned to camp and looked over the site; all looked well. Clara was sitting on their wagon, sharpening her blade Cender. She also had some oils to treat her metal-plated armor. These were enchanting oils for increasing the toughness of metal. They had a limited time use so that she would wipe the oils onto the armor a day before the expected battle. Varriss was just relaxing but listing for sounds that would be out of place, typical late-night guard detail.
“See you made it back, no buckets of ice-cold water needed?” Clara said with a bit of a concerned voice.
Master Martin responded, “Yes, she’s got a handle on this now, I hope. She’s different that much is for sure. I have worked with them before. She does not have most of the traits that I have seen or observed. I think it is because she did not come from a Hell Realm. She is not like Heather.”
Clara tried hard not to say the word demon in camp, “You really need to stay away from them. This is not a healthy relationship. I see the way you look at her. You know what she is, and yet you continue to tread that line.” Clara warned him. “If you are going to do this, you will have to go all the way in. You should know how they handle rejection. You should try something small first, maybe if that is not your suit. Do something together, just you too. Go on a date and take her someplace. She stays at your house all the time. You have her clean up and run the shop. You are teaching her magic, but that is all the role of Master Martin. What about Oliver Martin. I know she wants you to be part of her life, and I think it means something more than just a relationship, but that I can not tell. That creature has latched onto you like a lost puppy. I myself would be rid of her as soon as I can. She is troubled and will bring no end of trouble.”
“Maybe, but I can’t shake the feeling there’s more going on than just her. I also have to figure in the other factors as well, and that is the goddess.”
Andrea dropped from the sky and landed near their wagon. She quickly turned to Oliver, “Quickly wake everybody! We will be under attack shortly. Ward Pack demons are coming, at least 20 plus, they will be here soon!” She took a stern look at Oliver as she pulled off her glove that held her ring the Sirens Silence, “We got to wake everybody up as fast as possible.” He nodded, she slid her ring off and sent a wave of emotion across the camp, a sense of an imminent threat.