Part 1: Chapter 10
“We can start now. That’s why I’m out here,” he responded willingly.
“Oh. Well. I’m ready now.”
“What do you know from that journal?” he asked me.
“Well, I haven’t read all of it.”
“Can I see what all is written in there?”
I hesitated. “It has some very personal comments.” I didn’t feel the need to elaborate. Thankfully, he didn’t pry.
He nodded. “Well, tell me what you do know. We’ll start there.”
“I’ve learned about the Shapers, the Guardians and what they can learn at the academy. I know there are lessons describing my history, magic, fencing and defensive strategies classes written down in the journal. I just haven’t read them all yet.” I thought it best to leave out details. I wasn’t sure what all he knew, but my gut told me to remain somewhat ignorant.
“Alright. I think you should read the rest of that journal before we begin to work on some of your skills. You and I Guard in two days time so you need to learn about the basics quickly. I can teach you some of the defensive strategies we have in place at the Shrine, but only after you get a basic review on what it is we do.”
He stayed quiet after that.
“What can you tell me about magic?” I broke the silence. For once I wanted to hear someone else’s opinion and not mine as I was going to find out regardless.
He gave me a confused look.
“Why do Guardians use magic? Do we not have our own skills?” The Shaper chapter didn’t mention them using magic at all, but it did point out that Guardians had to use it for certain skills that mimicked the traits Shapers were born with. This would be a good chance to find out a Guardian’s view point on why we wielded Earth and Air magic.
“Well, when you put it like that, I can answer. Some Guardians are born with enhanced magical skills. But most of us aren’t. And there are some spells or skills that we need to have to do our job.”
“Like cloaking?” I asked, not giving too much away.
“Yes. Shapers, mostly because they shape-shift, naturally blend into the background. We cannot do that. So to hide ourselves, we use the Earthen forces to hide our bodies while we Guard. That’s one of the strategies we use at the Shrine. It takes a large amount of concentration to perform the spell, unless your Earthen magic is of superior quality. That is very difficult to reach, but necessary to cloak oneself. Very few manage it, and those Guardians are given the hardest assignments.”
I nodded. Guardians sounded outnumbered to Shapers, in the traits and abilities category. I was only basing this assumption on what I had read in my journal. “What else do we use magic for?”
Trayen eyed me before continuing. “All sorts of things. We can use the Air currents to shift the wind direction. That helps us to know when enemies are approaching. We’re adept at using Earth magic to place blockades around objects; basically we conjure boulders, or push them up from the ground to occupy territory where we need them to. Air magic helps us to be able to lift objects and push them where we need them to go.”
“So, Guardians use magic to fight?”
“Yes and no. Guardians use magic, as an addendum, to help them fight. Think of it as an accessory. Shapers cannot use magic.”
So it was true. It took me a second to process that thought before Trayen continued.
“We are given strength, they are given speed. We are given hardened skin, they are given agility. We use magic, they can change their shape. It seems fair.”
Fair? He obviously didn’t know about the telepathic abilities of the Shapers. Then again the way he talked about the Guardians and Shapers, he made it seem like they were bitter enemies. What was I missing? “Do you think it’s fair?” I asked him.
Trayen shrugged and threw a rock he held in his hand. I hadn’t noticed him pick it up; I’d been too absorbed into my own thoughts to notice what was happening around me. “It doesn’t matter much what I think. If you want my opinion, I feel that we are still missing something. I feel that Guardians are outnumbered.” Trayen chuckled and shook his head.
“What’s wrong?” There was something bothering him.
“We are outnumbered.”
I did not understand that statement. “What are you talking about?”
Trayen shifted his body away from me, but turned towards my face. “I keep forgetting that you can’t remember this. Someone should tell you, but it would be better if we go inside. I don’t trust that someone might eavesdrop on our conversation, especially for what I’m about to tell you.”
That someone was Caiden. I didn’t blame him. Personally, I wasn’t ready to be left alone with the guy; mostly because I couldn’t trust myself while I was around him. I nearly lost it before Isla and Trayen found me. “I think we’re safe here. Besides, now that you’re here, I’m sure that he won’t be nearby.”
Trayen looked around swiftly before he lowered his voice. “Fine, I’ll share what I know out here.”
I leaned in, eager to learn what he knew.
“You remember a little about what we were discussing in history?”
I racked my brain. “A war between the Guardians and Shapers?”
That’s what all this secrecy was about? I didn’t understand. “So, what’s the problem?”
He fidgeted. “In school we get an unbiased opinion on the war. But my father taught me what happened several years ago. He said the war was started because of two lovers. They defied the Ancients’ law; the law that basically forbids Shapers and Guardians to have intimate relationships with one another.
“The tribes, on either side, wouldn’t release the two who committed the crime to the Ancient council. The council retaliated and sent in their army to conquer both tribes, but their actions were done in haste, and they attacked tribes that got caught in the cross fire. That started the war; most notably it became a blood bath, and now even though we sit on a cease fire, there are too few Guardians. The Shapers outnumber us.”
I wanted to know more about the story. It intrigued me. “What happened to the lovers, and their tribes?”
“They died. They were killed alongside their tribes.”
“So in class, when you said the Guardians started the war, it was because of the lovers?”
“Somewhat. The Guardian tribe defended the accused to their deaths. They were loyal to them. My father told me that the accused was the leader of that tribe, which is why it was obliterated. And the Shaper that was accused was the daughter of the Chieftan of the Shaper tribe they were allied with. The reason why I stated the Guardians started the war was because of the Guardian leader. He wouldn’t stand by to watch the girl die. He charged at the council, outraged. The Ancients don’t like it when we defy their laws. That’s why they have their own personal Shaper army. They’re hunters. They hunt and kill those of us who betray them.”
I thought about what he said. The lovers were killed. It still didn’t explain why Guardians and Shapers couldn’t be together. Why did the Ancients make that silly law? I paused. The law was only silly to me because I wanted to break it.
Trayen turned back around and stared off into the distance.
“Are you sad about the war?” I asked him.
“My father’s family was killed. They lived in that tribe. Father was with Mother at her tribe when it happened. I wasn’t born yet.”
Trayen’s source of information was reliable. His father’s family had been present. There was only one option left for me now. I needed to push Caiden out of my head. There wasn’t any way for us to be together at all. It just wasn’t meant to be.
“Thank you for telling me this.”
His head turned again. He looked at me in utter shock.
“Or, not,” I reprimanded myself.
He wiped the shock off his face. “I’m not used to you saying thank you. You’ll have to forgive me for that.”
“I heard that my former self wasn’t very nice.”
I stole a look at him. “But to my closest friends, I acted the part of a jerk,” I explained to him. In less than a day, I had gleaned that about myself.
“Sometimes,” he mumbled.
My journal mentioned that I became friends with the two of them shortly after becoming a student, but never mentioned why. If I treated them badly, then why were they still friends with me? The question tugged at my brain. “Why are you friends with me, if I behaved so rudely?”
Trayen shrugged. “Other than you and Isla, I have no other friends.”
That statement stated a lot more than I think he intended it to. He blushed soon after.
“Why?” I pressed.
“I’ve been here for almost a year. Isla enrolled this past summer. I’m just shy.”
I wasn’t fooled by that statement. “In the year that you’ve been enrolled here, other than me and Isla, you’ve never made another friend?”
He shook his head.
“You never sought out one person to tell stuff too?” I was shocked.
Trayen blushed again. I felt like I was delving into the inner depths of his mind. It didn’t make any sense. How could one person go almost a whole year without talking to anyone, sharing anything about their past? “There…was one,” he stated slowly.
“What happened to them?”
“She…became Marked,” he whispered.
I knew immediately what he was talking about. I didn’t have to ask. My inner instincts lit up like a forest fire. His response was a warning in my head; it screamed at me. My only thought was if she felt the same before she received her Markings. I closed my mouth, realizing it was open.
He stared down at the ground as the truth came pouring out. “I was depressed afterwards. I thought a lot about what happened between us, and realized I was falling into the same trap that my grandfather’s tribal leader fell into. It was only a matter of time before both of us would do something that involved each other. She received her Markings last spring and left.
“Isla came along in the summer. By that time I had retreated away from anyone who could hurt me like that again. I didn’t want anyone to leave me, so I stayed away from everyone so I wouldn’t get close. I didn’t understand why we couldn’t be together at the time. Isla pulled me out of the hole I was creating, and saved me from doing something rash. Her natural instinct is to talk to people. That’s why most of the Night class students avoid her. One would think she’d be popular.” He laughed to himself.
I smiled. Isla was his saving grace. I felt sympathetic towards him. I half understood what he was talking about.
He suddenly glanced up into my eyes.
I knew my questions opened a wound that never healed just right.
“I haven’t told anyone this. Not even Isla. I’m partially ashamed of what happened and have kept quiet about it.” He looked back down again.
I wouldn’t share his secret.
“When I saw that Caiden fellow in the grove, I thought about her. Then I thought about you. You were always out here studying, by yourself. I hoped that you hadn’t fallen into the same trap I’d allowed myself into long ago.”
I wanted to say ‘nope, I haven’t followed in your footsteps,’ but I couldn’t bring myself to speak the words. I was slowly drifting down the path he’d chosen long ago. It would only end in heartache. This was further proof I had to push Caiden out of my mind. Starting tomorrow, I’d just study indoors.
A familiar face peeked from around the corner of a hedge. Isla grinned at both of us. “Guess what we’re having for dinner!” She practically bounced up and down as she walked towards us.
I realized that we had been here for a good two hours.
Trayen glanced up quickly. All evidence of how he felt moments earlier was replaced by happiness. “What?”
“Spaghetti and meatballs,” she answered.
“Isn’t that messy?”
“The best kind of messy.” She offered her arm out to us. “Shall we head to dinner?”
Trayen stood up, taking her arm. I shoved my journal into my bag and followed them both out of the garden.