Part 2: Chapter 1
Don’t. You. Dare.
The words reverberated through my mind. I knew she was listening in on my thoughts.
You and I both know that if you call her to the stage it would possibly ruin her disguise.
I sighed. Mir wanted her friend back. I didn’t blame her.
You know you can’t attack her. That close of a range? Everyone will know she’s Aralisa.
I wasn’t planning on attacking her. Besides, we weren’t at the Shrine today. It’ll be a tease, just for her. No one else will know, I fired back across the link we both shared.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Mir roll her eyes. She was being cautious, but I missed Aralisa, and I wanted to be the one who threw her the tease this time. In fact, it was the first time, in a very long time, that I had the upper hand. It was my move.
The relationship between Aralisa and I was nothing more than a game. We constantly teased each other back and forth, mostly because she wanted it that way. She used relationships with people to gain something in return, and with me it was my undying devotion.
I wished we could be closer, but she wouldn’t yield to my wishes. She didn’t yield to anyone’s wishes.
Our betrothal came at an early age, and even if she never wanted me I wouldn’t break it. I wouldn’t humiliate her like that. I’ve always liked her. I respected her, even when she didn’t like me which happened to be most of the time.
Mir related Aralisa’s attraction to me, after I grew up. Of course, that turned out to fuel our relationship, I being one of the most handsome and sought after guys in the Day class. Her personality wasn’t anything I found to be attractive. She was mean and inconsiderate of everyone that wasn’t her. There were times when even Mir had trouble dealing with her reckless emotions.
The night before, she was upset at playing her new role of being Mallie of the Night class. She threw a fit and tossed several figurines across the room, including a glass panther. I liked that one in particular, as my father gave it to me before he died. She didn’t care that it was my property that she broke.
She did that often, break things. I didn’t mind it much because I knew that we were together, and that was what I wanted for now. Even if she did hurt me at times, I let it go, just because it was Aralisa. She and I belonged together, even if our relationship was nothing more than a joke.
I looked up at her from where I stood. She had come in late with her Night class friends. They were exhibiting signs of worry and I wondered what that was about. But there she sat, on the end of the bench, staring at me. I couldn’t help myself.
I nodded at Panter and smiled. Call her. I sent my wishes through the Shaper link. I heard Mir scoff through it, along with most of the class as they didn’t want to witness the events between us. Some of my classmates giggled. I didn’t bother to look at the group of girls that were mocking me.
I kept staring at Aralisa as her fake name called her presence to the stage. She didn’t move right away. In fact, her girl friend had to push her off the bench. She looked frightened as she walked down to where I stood.
Mir. I called out to my sister through our family bond.
She answered quickly, noting the tone in my voice. What?
Does Aralisa look strange to you?
Mir glanced at her as she walked to meet me. No. She must be playing off some joke just to hitch you. You know how she does it.
She reached the stage and approached me. She looked normal, she wasn’t shaking. But she didn’t say anything either. No scowl, no smile. She just stared. Time to get the show on, if there was a show. I smiled at her.
“What Shrine were you at?” I asked her.
“Sun,” she quietly spoke. She didn’t say more, but ‘shrine’ followed it shortly afterwards in an even hushed tone.
She was acting really odd. It must be some new form of her teasing me. She must’ve grown tired of her usual methods. I smiled slightly at her and stared into her eyes. I knew that later on we would have more fun, but hopefully this time I had the upper hand.
She would hate me, or love me for what I was about to say. Mir’s gentle warning sounded in my head again, but I blocked it out. “How did you overcome your test?” I smiled at her, trying not to laugh. I was sure she’d see it in my eyes.
She didn’t say anything at first. I wondered if she had finally gotten tired of our games. But then she leaned in towards me. I thought for a second she was going to try and relive it on stage, but she stopped and whispered her words to me. “Remind me,” she stated.
I knew Mir was rolling her eyes at our behavior. It was a bit naughty. I had to admit it. I couldn’t remind her exactly what we were doing that day; it would ruin her disguise, not to mention that to some of the students present, our actions might be described as awkward and shocking. She just wanted to see how I would react. I honestly didn’t know what to do at this point. I wasn’t expecting this kind of a reaction from her.
How in the world would I be able to hint at our extracurricular activities? If she was in her right mind, she should’ve challenged me by now. She always liked the playful fights that followed. Another voice pierced my thoughts, though this time I was forced to listen.
What is going on between you two?
Branella, the Headmistress, used the Shaper link to talk to me directly. All of the Shapers were staring at us. The Night class was staring at us. Aralisa shook her head, disoriented, as she backed away from me.
My smile faded slightly. Is she acting weird to you? I sent my thought back to Branella.
Branella was staring at her. She didn’t need to stare at me. After all, it was a mystery to us how Aralisa escaped from being born without telepathy. She never could read her own daughter’s thoughts.
Not really. But you did ask her a question, and she didn’t answer it like she should have. Maybe I should talk with her.
Branella stood up and went to where we both stood on the platform.
“Mallie, do you think this is a joke?” she whispered to her daughter using the fake Night class name.
I never liked the name Mallie. Aralisa had only chosen it because it was the first name she thought up. I chuckled to myself, thinking about the memory when she realized she didn’t like it.
“No,” Aralisa whispered.
“Then why don’t you report? Caiden can’t show you what happened, not here.” Branella must’ve known that we had been together, again. We often skipped classes and such, for Aralisa was never in trouble for anything. I should’ve been Marked a long time ago, but Aralisa wanted me and so I stayed in class; well, out of class most of the time. Besides, I wasn’t ready to be Marked. I made that decision myself several months ago.
Aralisa looked scared. She leaned in and whispered to the Headmistress, “I don’t remember what happened.”
I laughed this time in my head. Oh great, she’s playing dumb. We did this the other day, when I was trying to help her learn about hiding her real personality. It threw me the first time. She’s a really good actress.
Branella glanced at me briefly to let me know that she understood what I was saying. She sent back another message to me. She may lie to you, or play games with you, but she wouldn’t do that with me. She knows better.
I shifted and let Branella keep asking her questions. She would understand that Aralisa was just playing with her as well. There was a first time for anything.
“Mallie, who am I?” she asked her.
I stared at Aralisa, smiling. I tried to clue her in to the fact she needed to drop her act. It didn’t work.
“You’re the Headmistress,” she stated to Branella.
“And?” she asked her, again wanting a more personal answer.
Aralisa faltered and stared at Branella like she didn’t know what she was supposed to say.
Caiden, I don’t think she knows who she is.
I dropped my smile and stared at her. Really? You’re sure it’s not a joke?
Branella got closer to Aralisa. “Who’s Caiden?” She practically breathed the words onto her.
Aralisa glanced at me with unknowing eyes. She was extremely confused and frightened. It was the first time I’d seen her like that. “He’s in the Day class,” she stated with such disgust it threw me.
Since when did her being in the Night class bother her to be around the Shapers? Since when did she care? I stared at Branella. She was fine earlier. I don’t know what happened to make her like this.
I do. Branella spoke in my head at the same time she spoke up to Aralisa. “Yes, he is. Mallie, I want you to come with me.” Branella brushed past me and stood before the class.
I stared at Aralisa. She didn’t know who I was. Mir!
Yes? Her annoyed response flooded my head.
Aralisa can’t remember us! I sent it to her hurriedly.
What? That doesn’t make any sense.
Another voice cut me off. I heard the Headmistress tell me to take my seat and I hurried up to the steps to sit next to Mir. She would want to know all of this. All of the Shapers would need to know about this.
As I approached Mir, she mouthed something at me: What is going on?
Several of our friends and classmates turned to stare either at us or at Aralisa heading out of the Arena with the Headmistress. Some of their thoughts invaded my head through the link that we all shared.
Wow, never thought I’d see the day when you two didn’t get it on.
Oh please, they wouldn’t even think of doing anything in front of others. Besides, that was the first time where they didn’t spar with each other.
I guess it’s over; she’s finally tired of him.
You’re welcome to share my bed, Caiden.
I shuddered. I didn’t want to share anyone’s bed but Aralisa’s. In all of our minds, the Headmistress was talking to us now, and we all had to listen.
I believe that Aralisa does not remember who she is, which means that you all cannot speak to her now. You will have to wait until she acquires her memories back.
Privately in my head, and I guessed Mirabella’s for she stared at me as Branella spoke new words only to us.
Caiden, you and Mirabella might need to move your stuff out of her dorm. She doesn’t need to have a panic attack once she reaches it. I’ll buy you some time and keep her in my office. You may both leave; Hasten will let you out of the Arena.
I paused to let the words sink into Mirabella. She looked frightened. Where am I supposed to keep my stuff? I asked the Headmistress.
Your old room is still available. I held it open in case this might ever happen. Come see me when you’re done.
Mir and I stood up with about three of her friends. We headed to the gates and Hasten opened them for us. The Night students watched as we disappeared out of the Arena, but I paid them no attention.
We hurried across the Academy quickly. We reached the dorm, as there were no Night students around, and we walked into the room Aralisa and I shared.
Mir turned to me. “What do we take?” she asked.
“The chest, all the items on it. The table and chairs are mine as well. And then the clothes in the closet that are mine. There’s not many,” I explained quickly. I didn’t want to have to relay it across the Shaper link. Everyone would hear it.
Mir nodded at me and started grabbing the figurines on the shelf. She placed them in a box that Hasten brought in as he entered the room. He handed her the box before he proceeded to haul out the table and chairs.
More of the Shapers that supported us were there outside, taking the things handed to them out and across the Academy to the Day dorm and our former living quarters. I stared at the chest, as Hasten prepared to move it out.
He glanced at me. “By the way, we’re placing your furniture in the closet across the hall. She could be playing a mean joke to get all your stuff out of here. You two will be back together soon enough. No need to haul it across campus. Just take the items and your clothes back to your room.”
I nodded, suddenly pissed off by his words. What if she was faking it? I would have to get her back for this. It was a mean trick. But she had stared at me like she didn’t know who I was. Anyway, there was only one sure way to know if she didn’t remember me. I would have to shift into my animal form. I knew my scent drove her crazy. She would come for me when I bathed in her water.
I went to our closet and grabbed my clothes. I tossed them to Darson to take up to our room. Mir could get in as her essence was tied to the room as well. We used to share a two bedroom setup before Aralisa and I moved over to this side of the school.
“I’m going to go take a stroll,” I stated for their benefit. Mir was the only one who wasn’t fooled by my intentions.
She glanced at me after the others left towards the Day side of the school. Don’t do anything stupid. She won’t remember you if she really has lost her memories.
I’m just going to go bathe in the river water. I winked at her.
She rolled her eyes at me and ran after the others. It wouldn’t take her long to catch up.
I approached one of the windows, and jumped down to the ground. They were open on this end of the wing. I would have to hurry if I was to make it back in time to see Branella. I ran on through the woods and approached the river.
The waterfall was right in front of me. I remembered how we both played in the water, from some of our former meetings in the woods. If her memories were really gone, I was going to miss that. This was one of my favorite places to be. I stripped off my clothes and shaped into the black panther form that I loved so much.
I crept into the river and felt the cool water caress my fur. It felt so wonderful, as I was hot most of the time. I stayed in the waterfall for five minutes, letting it fall down upon me as it washed my animal scent off of my body and into the river. I knew that if Aralisa smelled me in her bath water, she would find me. She always did.
It was a mean trick, but I felt like she was playing one of her games with me, if this was even a game. I wanted her to remember me. I wanted her to come looking for me.
Caiden! Mir’s beckon woke me up from my reverie. She had been listening to my thoughts, making sure I wouldn’t be late.
I leapt out of the waterfall to land on the shoreline. I shifted back to my human form and put my clothes back on. As I ran back towards the school, my hair dried from the wind whipping around me.
I climbed the stairs that led to Branella’s study. The door was closed once I reached it, so I just leant against the wall, awaiting my turn. It was only seconds before the door opened and Aralisa appeared, clutching a white journal. She froze when she noticed I was staring at her.
She stared at me with new eyes, eyes that weren’t hers from before. Did she really not remember me?
Her Night class friend, Isla, was standing along the railing suddenly. I guessed that the girl made it up here right after I did. She beckoned Aralisa to follow her. It took her several tries, but finally Aralisa walked away from me, and down the stairs.
I watched her go, noticing that she still didn’t know who I was, or pretended to not know. It was confusing for me to feel like she wouldn’t recognize me ever again.
Branella nodded to me and I made my way into the room. I shut the door and turned to pelt her with questions but Branella silenced me with a look before I could get a word out. She would explain what she knew.
“Tell me, what happened yesterday?” she asked.
I knew she didn’t want to use the Shaper link on purpose. Personally, I didn’t want the class knowing about our personal lives so I answered back using speech. “I don’t know. She was fine this morning.” She was Aralisa this morning.
“No, Caiden. Did she use anything?”
I thought about how she had been playing with the replicas of the fake artifacts on the dresser. She almost tried to chunk the orb with green and white marble across the room at one point, saying it wouldn’t work for her. That was the only object on the dresser that wasn’t a fake. It was only a replica, not the real thing and because of that, the magic was limited.
“So, she used the orb.” Branella was listening in on my thoughts.
“I think she tried a week ago, and nothing happened. I guess she tried again.” She had been toying with it over the past week. She wanted it to store her memories and the feelings surrounding her relationships while she remained within the Night class. I never thought it would leave her without any of her memories, seeing as how it wasn’t even the real artifact to begin with.
Branella was staring out of the northern windows that looked out over the Arena. Students had been dismissed and were making their way towards their respected dorms.
“You know what this means, don’t you?” she asked me without having to turn in my direction.
“That I’ll have to pretend we don’t exist,” I responded, knowing the answer.
She turned back towards me. “She can choose you again, you know. But you will be forced out of a decision that only she can make. I’m sorry for it.”
I stumbled backwards and sunk into a chair. I knew of what she spoke of, our engagement. Branella was giving me the chance to end it. “But that would humiliate her. If she knew…” I couldn’t even speak the words. I thought we would always be together, even if we never did love each other. I was panicking with the thought of her choosing a Guardian to love of all things.
“But she doesn’t know. I don’t even think she remembers that I am her mother. Whatever spell she used on the orb, it’s clear to me she does not remember Aralisa’s life. She’s awoken as Mallie, of the Night class, a blank slate.”
I sighed with this new information. I felt Mir’s presence as she listened in on the conversation. She never said anything, but the sudden anticipation of something unknown flooded us both. We wouldn’t know how to react around her.
“You have a choice, Caiden. You can end it now. I know you two were never in love. It wouldn’t humiliate her so much anymore because she doesn’t understand the rules of betrothals.”
“But the tribe…” I began, trying to hold onto us.
“It doesn’t matter. She’s never really quite belonged to the tribe. Don’t worry. It’ll be alright in the end.”
“No,” I forced the words out.
She glanced at me again. “You disapprove?”
“We belong together. We always have. You and my parents decided that a long time ago.” I practically yelled those words at her. But I believed them. I believed them enough to let myself be tormented by Aralisa. I always had. I didn’t care. I never worried about my feelings, but hers. I wanted her to be happy, even when I was miserable.
“She is not Aralisa anymore.”
“She will always be Aralisa to me.” I stood up and approached Branella. “I want her to be happy. If we break the engagement, once she wakes up into her former self, she’ll hate me. She’ll be humiliated.”
“And what if she never wakes up?”
Her question hit me like a ton of bricks. What if she didn’t wake up? What if she never remembered me? I felt cold and hollow, like a part of me was missing.
“Right now, all that she knows is that you two are opposites. You are opposing factions. She doesn’t remember you; she doesn’t remember what you two had. And the likelihood of her choosing you right now is very slim.” Branella put her hand on my face and lifted my eyes to meet hers. “You might have to face the fact that she will not choose you. I’m sorry for what it will do.”
Her hand dropped and she walked around to sit at her desk. “I need to send a letter to a friend.” She wrote it and sealed the letter with her stamp. She handed me the note. “Give this to Panter, please. He’ll know where to take it.”
Her words were leaving me feeling cold. Mir’s thoughts radiated into mine. You could always try. I glanced up at Branella. “What if I tried?”
She stared at me. “You still will be faced with the fact that she may not choose you, but you can try. Be wary though. The Night class cannot know of your intentions.”
“You’ve given some hope.” I took the note and disappeared out of her office.
I couldn’t believe the challenge that I now faced. I might never know Aralisa again. We would never be together. I had to have her back. But how would I even approach that avenue?
You may have to manipulate her into it. Like she did for you the first time. Mir’s thoughts spoke out to me.
I nodded as I went towards Panter who waited in the main hall. I gave him the note and he disappeared out of the door as he shifted into a golden lion. He was on his way to delivering the letter.
You think I have another chance with her? I asked Mirabella.
Of course. Tease her, seduce her. She loved it when you played along. Besides, this will be more interesting to watch because she thinks she’s really a Night student now. She half chuckled across the link. The other half of her was feeling depressed.
Yeah, but I can’t see her as often as I want to. She can’t skip classes. I fired back as Mir snickered in her bedroom. I briefly caught an image of Darson from the Day class.
Mir, Darson? I quizzed her thoughts but she shut off our connection. I knew what was going on, but I let her have her privacy. She had always given me mine. I reached our dorm, but I didn’t go in. I couldn’t really go in.
I wanted Aralisa and our relationship back. I turned and walked down the hall towards the Night dorms. I raced up the stairs and opened the door to our room. I saw the white journal laying out on one of the couches.
I peeked into the bedroom, and saw her sleeping. She looked peaceful, I wanted to wake her and ask what her act was all about, but I wouldn’t dare frighten her, as she would want to know how I came into her dorm room.
I ended up back in the sitting room, as the sunlight was streaming in, lighting the room. I picked up the journal and began to read it.
I recognized Aralisa’s elegant handwriting. She had written this book as a guide for herself if she ever lost her memories. I flipped through it and noticed she took the time to describe everything. She wrote down her thoughts about her classmates, her best friends, her teachers. She had a whole chapter dedicated to what she knew about Guardians. However, she had twice as much written about Shapers.
Her book progressed to her strengths in all of her classes. She even wrote out her weaknesses. I marveled at the thought of her writing this. I couldn’t remember when she did it, and what amazed me even more was the language she wrote it in. It was an Ancient language. How did she even learn it? Branella must’ve taught it to her. I had learned it from my mother, but that was only because the language was passed down through our family as we were descendants from the original tribe before the war.
As I glanced through the whole book, I saw nothing that pointed to me being her lover. She wouldn’t remember me, if ever. Had she written it that way on purpose? I reached the second to the last chapter and froze. Dating. I paused, holding my breath and read it.
She had left a loophole. She left me some hope. It didn’t mention that it was forbidden for us to be together, but that it was discouraged because we were students. I took the book with me, looking for a bookmark. I wanted her to find this chapter and read it. It would make my intentions a little bit clearer for her.
I walked into the closet and found the blue flower I gave her the night before hanging from her mirror. I pressed it into the folds on the pages and shut the book pressing it flat. I carried the book back to the table and set it down.
I thought about how I should go about trying to get Aralisa to notice me again. After all, this was still our room even if she thought it was just hers. I picked up her clothes and piled them into the dirty hamper. I cleaned up the bathtub, for she had used it.
Mir, I called from the connection. Her mind had opened up again.
Yes? she asked.
I sent her an image of the room I stood in. Get the guys together and bring back the stuff.
She didn’t answer straight away. Have you lost your mind?
I don’t want her to be alone in here. Besides, she doesn’t wake up when I’m in the room.
So, you’re stalking her?
She doesn’t know it. I wanted my things to be back in here. I opened the door and glanced out into the dorm. No one was around. I could feel Mir coming towards me, carrying the box of figurines.
Hasten appeared at the top of the stairs and shook his head at me. This is stupid. We’re going to be hauling your furniture around all over the damn school at this rate.
I smiled at him. Just go get it.
He rolled his eyes and opened up the closet door across the hall. He pulled the table out and started hauling it towards where I stood. I knew she’d change her mind.
She doesn’t know, yet.
Just get it in here. I don’t have all day. I still need to sleep if I’m going to be up all night.
He frowned at me, but carried the furniture into the room nevertheless. Darson and Mir appeared and came to help us. She brought the box of figurines. Darson carried the antique chest into where we were and placed it back in its original place against the south wall.
Mir and I started unloading the box. No clothes yet? she asked silently.
No. She’ll wonder who they belong to.
Not to mention where they came from, Hasten directly linked to me. This is dangerous.
Hush, I growled at him. He rolled his eyes and kept quietly arranging the table and chairs. Darson pulled a mini-fridge into the room. He placed it on the left wall and plugged it in.
He says it’s in case you miss dinner. It’s stocked with snacks, Mir related me the words.
What if Aralisa gets into it? Clearly, she’ll know that it’s not hers.
Mir smiled slyly at me. She won’t remember it’s not hers.
What’s in there? Essence of Caiden? Had she bottled my scent on purpose?
Maybe. She snickered and dropped one of items she was holding. It landed on the floor with a soft thump. We all froze and listened in for signs of movement in the next room. We all knew Aralisa’s hearing was excellent, if not better than ours.
I cautiously crept towards the bedroom and poked my head in the door. She was still sleeping. I breathed and turned to stare at Mir. Close one. Hurry up, so I can be alone with her.
And what are you going to do? Hasten was glaring at me.
Nothing. I need to sleep.
Not here, you’re not. If she wakes up, and sees you, you’re in big trouble.
I frowned. I couldn’t even sleep in my own bed. Fine. I’ll return to the Day side.
The three headed out of the door, but were waiting in the hall to make sure I followed. I went into the bedroom and stared at Aralisa. She looked so peaceful, but she always looked peaceful when she slept.
I bent close to her and took a chance. I kissed her forehead, but she didn’t wake up. She stirred slightly and mouthed my name. I paused to watch her longer, intrigued.
Come on already! Mir was getting annoyed.
I stood up and headed for the door, hoping and wishing that she would remember me soon. I didn’t think I’d miss sleeping with her, but I did.