I TAKE A DATE WITH THE ENEMY
When I got back to the dorm, I tried to beg Rachel into telling me what she saw, but the future is dangerous knowledge, and she was hesitant at first. I’m quite sure she wasn’t telling me everything.
“Death is coming; a death will spark either the beginning of the rebellion or the end of our chances. A death very close to us all and will be an example to both sides.” That was her prophesy, I just hoped that my friends and family were safe. The four of us stayed up most of the night after that, trying to comfort Rachel and get her back to sleep. It must have been around three in the morning before we were all sleeping.
When we went down to breakfast, I was worried on two parts. First, I looked around at the friends I had, the Twilights and the girls, knowing I had the best friends in the world and that Rachel’s prophesy was scaring me. Then, my eyes went straight to the Council table where Kayson and Nicolas sat. There was no hint they were talking about me or even made the full connection. So, I was determined to find out more about this kid. But even more surprising were the two demigods that came up to our table that morning.
“Someone told us you’re the ones to come to if we’re having problems in the political department.” One of them said, looking at Jenny and me.
I wasn’t totally sure how to react to this as it could be just a homework problem as much as rebellion recruitment. “In which way, couldn’t Professor Peterson help you with that?”
“Not with this particular subject,” the other one responded. “It requires a more,” he paused “feminine version of events.”
“Right, why don’t you two just shout it out to the world. You might as well after saying things like that,” exclaimed Peter in a low voice.
“Seriously Peter, it’s hard enough talking about the subject as it is.” I rolled my eyes and turned back to the boys. “You were told correctly, I’m an expert in that area. But I would be careful who you tell.”
“Good cause we wanna invite you to a meeting of the Arthur Aidonous Memorial Coven, this is your ticket, feel free for all of you to come.” He went and handed me what looked like a digital wristwatch but on the underside, was a secret screen that would tell me where this meeting was meant to be held. I had no idea who Arthur Aidonous was, but I betted he was a famous rebel warrior whose name wasn’t known by the Council. Otherwise, the boys wouldn’t have been mentioning him right there in the open. I looked to where the boys sat, and it was only then I realised just how many rebels attended the school. I estimated around a hundred and maybe a few teachers could be in the mix, despite what I previously thought about this school as being the most loyal. However, we later found out that these boys, alongside Charlie, were three of only ten demigods that attended our school.
Jenny had been to this meeting last year on both solstices, and they were quite a hit. It’s been going on for a few years now. No one knows who the organiser is (but they reckon it’s a royalist spy in the Council), but once they figured it wasn’t a Council trap, more and more rebels joined up. Everyone who’s invited is instructed to cover their faces and body in dark clothing. Also, to only bring one magical item that may help them escape in case of emergency without using Powers. There are ways of tracking Avalonians if we use our Powers. The location changes every time and is controlled through a chip inserted into this wristwatch. Apparently, there are quite a lot of members, enough to decently fight the Council but not enough to realistically overthrow them; for that, we would need a proper campaign. However, first, we need to decide when to fight. For that, we needed to be both politically and physically ready.
The next day I was sparing against an enchanted dummy, and again a crowd had gathered around. Boys and girls aren’t generally allowed to face each other but out stepped Nicolas from the crowd and challenged me. But before I could even say a word, Peter stepped in. Being one of the few people that can match my skills and was the one who initially trained me back in Scotland, he would instead take my place just to ensure I wasn’t overmatched. I may annoy Nicolas on how good I was, but my brother could be worst as I was soon to find out. It started as a simple swordfight, but then they started the whole “I’m better than you” thing and threw Powers into the mix. Then the hatred really started to come out, and Nicolas exploded into a wolf. I had no idea he was a werewolf, but there you go. But then in response, Peter exploded quite literally as well. He discovered a new Power that day, the Power of shapeshifting.
To match Nicolas’ attack, my brother turned into a bear! Just as well the teachers dismissed it as transfiguration magic, or my brother would have been accused of having five Powers, pointing to potential royalty. Werewolves can only turn into a wolf and retain wolf-like qualities at all times, shapeshifters can transform into a selection of animals and only hold qualities when in animal form. Transfiguration, on the other hand, only takes on the physical look of the animal, not its abilities. The two of them fought it out in the animal form in the school courtyard. Ari was in my hair at this point and wanted to jump in there and break it up. I don’t know exactly what she had in mind, but I’m quite sure even her shields could never stand a chance between these two. It wasn’t until an older boy, who had the purple Head Boy sash around his waist, stepped in with a shock wave that things finally calmed down. Any of the school could have really stepped in, but we were too busy wanting one or the other to win. I never got that match between us, but I’m determined to make it happen, to death.
The weeks leading up to the Christmas holidays were tough for us. Tests came left, right and centre and we spent more nights in the library than ever. History and Cantainian language made me especially nervous. Still, I felt I did quite well in biology, maths and Cantainian sociology. My Power exam was first to come, I had to combat an older student using both physical force and Powers. The aim wasn’t to beat the opposition, but to respond well to anything thrown at you, winning was a bonus. But it wasn’t the tests that bothered me, it was Ari.
About a week after meeting the shadow dragon, Ari started having nightmares almost every night. I never saw the dreams myself, but somehow, I felt her fear and pain as if it was my own. It seemed that the telepathic connection between the two of us was getting stronger. Between Nidia and me, we had a choice on whether or not to feel each other’s emotions, with Ari there didn’t seem to be such a choice. I would suddenly wake up sweating and out of breath for no reason only to turn and see Ari fidgeting violently in her sleep. I would then gently wake her up, and she would scream every time. It would take a while for me to get her to sleep, but a routine of stroking her hair and warm hugs usually did the trick. The nightmares were generally the same, often involving me getting hurt and she not being strong enough to save me or her being held captive. I decided that we should work on strengthening Ari up over the holidays to sort out this fear. It was during these nights that we discovered her cat form. It was only a black domestic cat, but it soon became one of her favourites. To date, that would make five forms, which is more than you average Drakon. But then I wasn’t you average Queen, so I suspected I wouldn’t get an average Drakon.
The last week of school was a breeze. Exams finished up, and preparations for the winter dance were in full swing. Naturally, Pete asked Kat, a fling that had been going on for quite some time, but Debs had to bug Jason for ages before he finally asked her. Nidia and Rachel were snatched up by the same two demigod boys that I talked about earlier and then there was me, still without a date. I wasn’t really bothered as no one had ever asked me to a dance before. Again, I kinda was annoyed that I was the only girl in my year without one just because there happened to be a couple more girls than boys in our year.
On the last day before the dance, I had decided to wear my Avalonian dress simply as it was the Cantainian language test that day. I thought it would give me good luck or something, I found out later it might have been a mistake. After the exam, half the senior school was hanging out in the clock tower courtyard when a helicopter was seen overhead. Naturally, the chosen landing spot had to be right on top of us, so everyone ran into the sides where there was sheltered protection. Jenny, being the most knowledgeable in the group, immediately noticed the symbol on the side and recognised precisely who was inside.
“Oh, may Olympus help us, it’s the Governor” exclaimed Jenny “I fear he may know about you, but neither can you be seen running away. You must stay in plain sight protected on all angles. Stick to my plan, and we might just get through this. Nidia, you take Kat and go to the opposite side, Jason and Rachel take the doors and Debs you keep an eye on Nicolas and his gang. If there’s an arrest about to happen, we need to know about it before it happens and Peter, you take the rooftop and stay invisible. Ari wherever you are, you probably don’t need to be told this, but stay with Alaїs. Alaїs you stay with me.”
The rest of the Twilights looked to me just as the helicopter began to touch down. I told them to trust Jenny as we had no time to plan anything else and, she was skilled in this area. The plan was to protect each other from all angles and not be seen together and give away our cover. However, at that moment, I thought I should have been sent to the other end of the school, not standing in plain sight in front of the Governor.
I couldn’t have looked any more evident than I was at that moment, I might have well just stuck a crown on and pulled my necklace out, I was already in semi-royal style. Wearing Avalonian clothes wasn’t wholly unusual around the school. Still, red and gold were rare colours, as they symbolised the time of the Queen.
Just as the door of the helicopter opened, Nicolas stepped out from the crowd with Kayson, who I had taken to be his advisor since I’d started watching him closely. Along with another boy, got down on one knee just in front of it. I had no idea what was in his head as the weird thing about Nicolas is, I can’t read his mind as well as I can everyone else. Because of this, I had a snag of doubt in the back of my mind that he knew who I truly was. The door opened to two bulky security guards, dressed like they were in the secret service. They had no guns, but I could sense they had a very high-Power level and could probably take down a dragon if they had to. The man that came out behind them was not the evil-looking villain you expect to see in movies. This was the sort of just but a strict looking guy, who let his Powers do the evil stuff. Behind him was a woman, who I assume was Nicolas’ mother. Now, this was the villainous-looking person, as she was stern and had a permanent frown upon her face, she sorts of reminded me of the evil stepmother. There wasn’t one similarity between mother and son, but I could see it in Nicolas’ younger brother.
“Nicolas, my young heir,” the Governor spoke with high authority, and arms spread open. Nicolas rose up, and the Governor place a hand on each shoulder. “How good it is to see you. How’s school been? And please tell me you have a date for this year’s dance. As you are now seventeen, you should be looking for a good strong woman to stand by your side.” I couldn’t believe that the Governor was talking about Nicolas’ relationship status in front of the entire school.
“School is great as usual, as you’ll see from my results and actually, I do have a date this year.” Everyone was surprised at this as he never showed any interest in the ambitious girls or any other girl for that matter. Also, no one had seen him ask a girl out yet. Then he turned around, hand outstretched, “Alaїs, would you care to join me?”
The crowd parted right in front of me, I knew I couldn’t run or refuse in front of the Governor. I could feel Ari shaking in my hair as Nicolas stepped forward and took my hand as I stepped towards the helicopter.
“This is Alaїs Smith,” replied Nicolas placing my hand into the Governor’s “my chosen date for tomorrow’s dance and a good friend. Alaїs, this is my father, Tiberius Darius Canta.” It wasn’t until this point in time that I realised I didn’t know the Governor’s name. All articles just referred to him as “the Governor” often with words like glorious, victorious etc. added in there. Tiberius looked at me as if he was examining me. He dropped my hand and proceeded to walk around me, talking slowly as if taking notes.
“Pretty, good hands, Grade 5 Power at least, looks like she can hold her own, probably won a lot of Power battles. Hmm, how old are you,” he finished.
“Sixteen,” I replied as he stepped back in front of the helicopter. I had not taken my gaze off him as he walked around me. I tried desperately to hide hate that probably lay behind my eyes.
“Well, you seem good enough for my son,” he stated. “Well done Nicolas for finally finding a good candidate to rule at your side. My young Alaїs, I am pleased to welcome you, for the time being.” The last statement was a warning, a sign he was watching me.
He then walked towards the headmaster who had appeared behind us, mentioning to Nicolas and me that we were invited to dinner with him that night. Once he was out of earshot, a massive sigh of relief came from my mouth, and I heard a couple run through my head from the others as well.
“What was that about?” I asked Nicolas. “I don’t remember you ever asking me out or showing any interest in taking anyone to the dance. And Grade 5 Power level, for the time being, what does it all mean?”
“You do know I would never allow any other person to speak to me like that? I just couldn’t bear another year of my father pressing for me to get married. No, that is not my intention with you, just to show him I finally have an interest in some girls. And you are interesting, not many girls could present themselves as a challenge to me, even if I do have to fight their brother first. As for Power grading, you should have learnt about this in a class by now, There are technically seven levels of Power. Only the traitorous royals can actually hold a Grade 7. All the Council members are Grade 5, but for someone outside the Council to be Grade 5 is unusual. It doesn’t have much to do with how many Powers you have, more how your Powers stack up against others. Last year I was told I should only go for girls of Grade 4 or above. He’ll prob ask for your grades and loyalty status from the school records. At dinner, he’ll ask you everything, and he can tell when someone is lying to him.” He then walked back to his friends, leaving me to ponder on what he said. I seriously hated him at that moment. How dare he embarrass me like that. The last thing I wanted was to be known as the Governor-to-be’s girlfriend. I then turned to look at Kayson, the first time I’d done so since Halloween, all he did was nod at me with a slight, almost invisible, friendly smile. It was as if he was trying to say he was keeping my secret a secret as if he was on my side. Now was just not the right time to tell me.