The wind hits my face as I stand on the roof, scanning the perimeter for movements. There’s a lot of things that move. The corn moves, the tree branches sway, and in the distance, there is a herd of sheep running through a gap in a fence. Nothing else seems out of the ordinary—yet.
It’s been two weeks since the angels came here, as quickly as they arrived, they left—thanks to the threatening retaliation of the demons. It’s been quiet since, which can trick your mind into letting your guard down. Not for us. Not for me.
Everyone is on high alert. We’ve been taking turns guarding the castle at night and keeping watch for strange activity. At the moment, the castle remains the safest place to be, but that can change in an instant.
It’s all changing out there. Every night, thunder and lightning dominate the skies. The sky hasn’t been clear since it happened, and the clouds are so darkly thick that they block out the sunlight.
The angels might be gone, but the demons are preparing. This world will be their battleground for a war we can’t comprehend, a war I never dreamed would arrive. I always knew the demons would rise and attack it one day, that they’d come for the Elder and the Wiccans. Back then, I didn’t care much for it. As long as the humans were safe, watching the demons take out the Elder would have been a celebration.
But now that Elder is someone I love. She is someone I can’t live without. And protecting her from them is my biggest priority.
I clear the area and I go back inside. I haven’t seen Theresa since this morning and I have a sudden urge to check in on her. For some reason, she’s begun combat training with Cowan again. She spent most of yesterday in the training chamber and I think she’s overcompensating for feeling helpless. I haven’t intruded on any of their sessions, but I’m curious to see his teaching style.
They use one of the bigger training chambers on the fourth level that hardly anyone else uses. It’s the room that I trained in with Zoran, and I offered it to her because it’s the one room that doesn’t remind her of Sophia.
I stand in the doorway as Cowan circles Theresa slowly. Theresa is knelt on the ground and has her eyes pinched closed as she breathes. Her hair is tied back and she wears plain, comfortable clothes that she said make her feel lighter. I cross my arms as I observe from afar. Cowan walks around her slowly, quietly, so quietly that there isn’t even a creak.
“How many steps?” he asks.
“Fifty-one,” Theresa says.
Cowan backs all the way up to the wall, over twenty feet away from her. He places his hands either side of his waist and lifts his head. Theresa takes a deep breath and conjures a small blade into her hand, with her eyes still closed, she spins on one foot and releases the blade towards the wall. The blade is nowhere near him and is thrown so badly that the point doesn’t stick. It drops to the floor and after Theresa hears the noise, she opens her eyes and sighs.
“Dammit,” she says.
“It’s alright,” Cowan says. “You’ll get it. You’re just out of practise.”
“We’ve been at it for hours and I’m no closer,” Theresa says, she’s upset with herself and I wonder why it means that much to her.
“Well, you might not be able to feel the vibrations as a Slayer. It’s our instincts as Wiccans that make it possible.”
“My Slayer side isn’t active,” Theresa mumbles. “And even if it was, I felt Drago’s vibrations on the mountain.”
“So why aren’t you training like that?” Cowan asks.
“Because being a Slayer doesn’t help any of us with what’s out there.”
“Well you could always merge. I heard that was quite something.”
I’ve been standing here for a few minutes now and she hasn’t sensed me. I’d put it down to stress and distraction if I didn’t know her as well as I do. Something else is going on, something that’s keeping her awake at night and causing her to secretly panic. I walk into the chamber and Cowan folds his arms and averts his eyes. Theresa wipes her face with a dry towel and turns around.
“Hey,” she says. “Am I late for the thing? I lost track of time.”
“The thing being David’s lesson?” I say. “No, it’s in an hour, he’s having dinner with Mabel.”
“Oh. Okay. Well if I have another hour then. . .” She turns and glances at Cowan, who throws his arms up and shakes his head.
“No can do,” he says. “I have a life you know. It might be restricted, but it’s something somewhere very far away from here. Bye, Sam.”
“Bye,” I say.
Cowan leaves the chamber and Theresa eyes me from against the wall as she takes a drink of water.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” she says.
“Are you alright?”
“Yeah,” she says. “It was useless anyway. I’m never going to be able to do it.”
“Come here,” I say.
“No,” she says, pointing a finger at me. “I said I didn’t want you to train me, and I meant it.”
She drops the water flask on the floor and sighs in defeat. She smiles when she stops in front of me and I take her hand.
“Close your eyes,” I say. “And switch to your Slayer side.”
“I don’t want to hurt you,” she mutters. “I am not so good with a blade, if I miss-”
“Just do it.”
She resists at first, thinking it over, but then she places her trust in me. I trail my hand along her arm and she shivers slightly. I walk to the back of her, and I cup her shoulders, lowering her gently to her knees.
“Just follow my energy,” I say. “Like I followed yours.”
“I don’t know how,” she says.
“Yes, you do.”
I back up to the wall and she sits still for several seconds. I enter her head and I start counting back from ten. She conjures the blade on five, and I stop counting. Her body twists smoothly, her hand is confident and aggressive as it releases the blade in my direction. I don’t make a sound as it pierces the wall above my head. She opens her eyes and gasps.
“I did it!” she says.
“Well done,” I say.
“How did you know?”
“I didn’t, I just trusted you not to kill me. Not overthinking it is the key.”
Her eyes sparkle a little as I walk back to her. She’s less tense now, looser and freer. That quickly vanishes when she begins thinking about something else. I’ve never seen her this afraid, not even when Amara was out there plotting her death. I want to take that fear away, but she won’t allow me to.
“I’m going to take a shower before my lesson,” she says. “Are you still going to meet with Freya?”
“Yeah, Megan and I are meeting with her in London.”
She cringes, folding her arms uncomfortably. “Be careful. Please.”
“I’m taking a crystal, I’ll be fine.”
“Don’t transport when it’s active,” she mumbles. “Deactivate it before you come home.”
“Okay,” she echoes, beginning to turn around. In a second, she changes her mind and runs back to me, pulling me in to a passionate and strong kiss. I go along with it, trying to pretend as though the real reason behind it isn’t concerning me.
We don’t say another word. She leaves the chamber rubbing her temple and I stare after her in confusion. Her paranoia for the angels is growing more each day. I used to think that the demons were a cause for worry, but Theresa’s fear shouldn’t be underestimated. The angels brought her back from the dead, they reversed time and wiped our memories. Even the demons cannot do that. And now they’re angry because she destroyed the amulet, their one chance at getting back at the gods.
If she’s worried, then I’m worried, but I’m naïve enough to believe that they can be reasoned with. If the angels created her, then they can’t be all bad. Theresa is all good, and it’s definitely not her demon side that makes her like that.
No matter what, there’s a war coming. We just haven’t yet figured out which side we’re fighting for.