Going Home (Going Home#1)

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Adria: My People

I sit on a swing on the porch and look at the dark sky. It’s so quiet. I haven’t seen Jade this angry before and when she asked me to leave her room, it threw me off. I lied when I told her that I didn’t hear anything her parents were talking about earlier. I was shocked to hear them talking about me and that they knew so much.

The front door creaks open and Ben peeks out, “Can I join you?”
I smile at him and nod. Unlike Jade, I’m not angry at them. Even if I want to, I can’t get. They gave me parental love and protection after years of yearning for it. They must have had reasons and part of me is relieved that they know so much. Not knowing about anything is worse and I won’t wish this even upon my enemies.

Ben’s sigh is loud in the quiet of the night as he sits down with me, “Jade listened to us talking, right?”
I nod and look back at the forest.

“Don’t you have anything to ask me?” Ben asks hesitatingly.

“I’d love to. Believe me, I tried not to barge into your room and demand that you tell me. But I couldn’t. I know you must have a reason for keeping it all from me this long.” I rub my neck anxiously.

“Are you mad at us, Adria?” He asks quietly, not believing my words. I shake my head and look at him.
He ruffles my hair, “Dianne was my aunt.”
I gape at him, “Aunt?” I do quick calculations in my head and then shake my head furiously.

“No, you’ve got it wrong. She was my mom.”

He smiles, ignoring my baffled looks, “You are splitting image of her. Minus those bluish violet eyes and long hair.”
I scoff and then cover it by clearing my throat. Its best to let him tell me what he believes him, I decide.

“She was born here. Her family was unique.”
“Her family? You said she was your aunt.”

“Adopted aunt. My grandfather adopted her when her parents passed away.”

“Is she the one Orla’s mother used to talk about with Jade?” I recall that once Jade mentioned my mother when she was talking about her grandmother.

He nods and continues, “When Dianne was sixteen, she lost her parents. She was heart broken and alone so she went into the forest one day to escape from people whispering behind her back and returned unharmed but alone. Everyone already feared the forest so she became a mystery when she could come and go at will. As the days passed, she started spending her time in the forest more and eventually at nineteen she disappeared only to be seen seven years later here in A.”
“You sound like my mother was a lot older.” I ask, still stuck on what he told me earlier.
He chuckles, “She was, actually. When she appeared after seven years, she still looked the same. Then she met Joseph Headley in A and fell in love. He was a lot older than she was. Probably eight years? Joseph had come to live there after completing his university degree with his girlfriend who specialized in medicine.”
“Mrs. Headley?” I ask the obvious.

He nods sadly and takes my hands into his, “He also used to say that he loved her. They continued to meet for a year before Dianne found out that he was cheating on her. She balmed herself for believing ina man who brought back home his girlfriend. She disappeared again.”
“Why? I mean...” I shove down a lump in my throat to ask him this, “What did he want from my mother? Could it... could it be that I’m Mrs.Headly’s step-daughter and Eric is my nephew? No this sounds wrong in so many ways!!!”
“Eric?” Ben raises his eyebrow.

“Oh, the guy I met outside B? He’s her grandson.”

He shakes his head, “No, you are not related to her and this age thing, you can ask the people in the forest. Whoever is your father belongs in there!” He points towards the forest and I suck in my breath in shock.

“How....?”

Ben stands up and stretches, “We don’t know. Dianne appeared on my wedding day after years and still looked young. Nobody saw her because she met me in solitude to give me her blessings and that was the time when she was pregnant with you. Then she just left saying that the life in the forest didn’t sit well with her. That was the last time I saw her and then years later you were here, in a bad condition at the gate. Every elder knew who you were that is why they kept their distance.”

“So, I should go and meet them?” I ask him, uncertainly. My father was from the forest, from THE. FOREST!

“I think so. If they haven’t hurt you till now, they never will. All the more reason to believe that your father was someone from there.”

“How can my mother be so...old? I mean...” I sigh and hold my head in my hands. All of this is so confusing.

“I first saw her when she appeared from the forest seven years later. I was in A that time and was fifteen. At my wedding day, I was twenty two but she still looked like she was before. You do the sum.”

“So she died at the age of... an old age when she looked like someone in her twenties? I stayed with her for seventeen years and she hardly changed. I thought she just looked young like some people who don’t look their age.”
Ben smiles and pats my head.

“Thanks, Ben!” Despite the absurdity of his story, I’m thankful to him. I get up and hug him tight as my tears threaten to fall.

“No need to thank us, kiddo. Solve the mystery and stay away from that Eric boy!” He hugs me back and pats my head.

I move back to look at him, “You think he is the same?”
“Could be. He is belongs to that family.”
“How?”
“Joseph and Clara had a daughter and he is probably her son.” He pats me once more and turns to leave.

After Ben leaves, I sit down on the swing and think over everything he’s told me. Nothing makes sense but I can’t straight out deny his words especially after what I’ve witnessed and experienced in the forest. Then I think about Eric, for some reason, his kindness had made my cold heart feel something. Something I wasn’t ready to pursue but it had been nice. I shake my head to empty my head of his thoughts and focus on what Ben have just told me.

When the clock strikes 3am, I hear that sad humming again and this time I’m not afraid. Instead, I get up and walk towards the forest.

It's the first time I've entered the forest at night. The humming stops as soon as I cross the threshold and stop feeling Jade behind up in the window, watching me.

I stop walking as soon as I see three of them on the dirt path that goes to A. They are strikingly beautiful as that day but today their smiles and presence feel warm.
They all are over 6 ft tall with slim and elegant figures. Their features are delicate but sharp and violet eyes with bluish hue just like mine. Two of them have silver shoulder length sleek hair while the third has raven black hairs which are cropped from the back but the front hair bangs are long enough to cover his forehead. He has a fine-boned angular face and mischievous glint in his violet eyes.

All three of them are dressed the same with loose pants and long overcoat styled cloth draped over their shoulders and another cloth is tied around their waists over it.

“You came.” One of them moves forward who, I presume is the oldest among the three. He has smooth and clear voice.
I nod and move to stand in front of them just few feet away.

"I..." I begin but nerves get the better of me. I clear my throat and point behind me.

"Ben told me that my... my father's from here. My mother, she stayed with you for years?"

"He isn't wrong."

“Will you tell me everything which is related to my existence?” I'm surprised at how my voice suddenly sounds, strong and confident.
The oldest smiles at me and nods, “We've been waiting for you Adria Emerson for past twenty three years”
“Why?” I look at all three of them.
“It’s a long story and for now we would like you to introduce you the world you belong in.”

“I...uh...” I clear my throat and try hard to continue for I am scared of the answer to my question, “Is my father....al..alive?”

The oldest one smiles sadly and shakes his head. I turn away to hide my tears and control my emotions. Why did I hope that I will see him here when I’m not so lucky when it comes to parents?
Deep breaths Adria deep breaths. I tell myself over and over again then turn back to them.

The oldest one moves forward and places his hand on my head, “But you have a family here. I’m sorry that Dianne and Argider lead a sad life.”

“Argider?”

“It was your father’s name. It means ‘Beautiful Light’” He smiles desolately at me.
I nod and sniff back my sobs.

“Names are very important to us Adria. We focus on what they mean.”

“It’s a cool name, difficult one but...” I let out a sound between a laugh and a cry.

“Meet your cousin Adria” He lifts his hand and signals the youngest one to come forward. “His name is Devon which names ‘Poet’ and my name is Daemon which means ‘Guardian spirit’. I'm head of our race that is currently trapped here in the forest. This guy”, he moves back and puts his arm over the other guy’s shoulder “is my son!”
I nod and turn my attention to Devon, “So, how exactly are we related?” I force a smile and he chortles softly, “I am Argider ’s nephew. My mother is his older sister.”
“Ahhh so that way. Is your mother......” I can’t bring myself to complete the question but Devon completes it for me, “Alive? Yes she is.” He winks at me and Daemon signals us to follow him into the forest.

As I start losing the tension in my limbs, I notice that Devon and Daemon are super excited except for Daemon’s son whose name Daemon failed to mention.
The golden trees that I loved in the forest were not just growing there; they have an invisible wall between them which we cross without feeling anything. As I step onto the other side, I can’t move. I stand there gawking at the world inside.

“Also, we don’t kill the people who come into the forest rather they are lost when they see this. Their human brains are not capable to digest these surroundings and as a result they lose themselves in here. We keep them away from wandering back just to prevent suspicions from arising.” Daemon says as he guides us deeper but I can't move.
It’s the night but the trees are lit with the fireflies in various colors. Fireflies dance in the grass and the birds chirp in the trees as it’ll be sunrise in couple of hours. I can smell strong scent of forest; damp soil and dew and flowers. Yes, there are flowers unlike I've ever seen before. They are twice larger than normal and multiple colors on a single plant. It feels as if they're dancing with the cool breeze that's blowing inside the forest. The path, muddy but unlike it, criscrosses through the forest. Another type of a plant with glittering leaves and red glittering flowers dot the dirt path.

“Adria?” Daemon and co stop to wait for me.

“I...uh...wh...” I try my best to speak but my thoughts are scattered.

“Its ok. The effect will wear off!!” Devon puts his arm around my shoulders and drags me with him. “Cousin, there is lot more so brace yourself.” I want to throw his arm off my shoulders but I don’t for he is family and like a brother I never had.
“No. We won’t take you deeper or I’m afraid you won’t be able to take it.” Daemon raises his hand to stop Devon and me.

“We'll sit there!” He points towards our left and I find myself gaping again. On the left is a large garden between the small streams. That too, is decorated by the same flowers and fireflies but in the middle, there's a unique piece of furniture. It's glossy white with the light from fireflies reflecting on it. There are six chairs and a matching white table. The furniture is antique but beautiful.

When we sit down, Daemon folds his hands on the table and begins what he calls introduction,

“We, Adria call ourselves Pneuma which is a Greek word meaning ’spirit or soul ’but we are not spirits or souls as you might think but we're an ancient race living in the depths of mountains. And the invisible cocoon over you earlier today? It was me, something special I can do.

We always have kept ourselves up to date about the human lives but we can never get along so every now and then our informant or tourists as you call them take a tour around the world and report their journeys. Never once we've decided to live among humans. Five centuries ago, one of us found human world more comfortable than our own and he decided to settle down with a human woman.

Then Blake, the guy who fell for and married a human woman, told everything to her and turned out she was not just any woman but belonged to a tribe of sorcerers. They used Blake to find out our location and attacked us.”
“I don’t get it. Wait!” I raise my hands and close my eyes. Magic? Just like I suspected and another race? That means I'm not human?

“You are half-human Adria!” Devon says from my left and I jump up. He read my thoughts!!
“Sorry about that but you will need to learn to shut your mind from some of us” He winks at me and I scowl but not seriously. He can read my thoughts! Just how cool is that?

“So, why did sorcerers attack you for no reason at all?” I ask Daemon.

“Look around you, humans would give anything to live in this. This is nothing compared to our lives in the mountains.

Now Adria, Pneumas also possess magic. Not all of us but majority does and we are trained to use that magic for the better good, for helping others and making our surroundings such as this. We were never trained to kill. The ability to do magic is different so these abilities divide us into levels. Highest level is twelve but in our entire race only three so far had level twelve. We normal Pneumas hardly reach up to eight or nine and right now in this forest we have highest level of eight. Look around you, this work is done by the Pneumas of levels six and eight. There are only few who are higher than three, others fall under it and hence not powerful enough.”
So Devon is? I think unconsciously and look at Devon in horror as I realize next second that he can read my mind and he is doing it. He simply smirks at me and says, “I’m six and Daemon is eight and his son is five”

Daemon shakes his head at us and continues,

“So you see when that sorcerers’ tribe attacked us, we couldn’t fight and lost many lives. In that moment our ruler who was level ten captured Blake’s wife Tinuviel which means ‘nightingle’. Beautiful name.”
Daemon stops talking and looks around. Devon nudges me to look at my right.

I see a gorgeous woman bringing a tray towards us. She's the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. She has long silver hairs that are tied into a long braid interwined with small red and orange glimmering flowers that are in the same shade as her gown. She has tall and slim frame with close set violet eyes like the rest of us. She makes an eye contact with me for a fraction of second and then looks away.

“She's Daemon’s daughter in law.” Devon whispers from the side of his mouth as I stare at the woman setting down the glasses in front of us. She nods curtly and leaves without giving us a second glance.

“He never loved her but she is Daemon’s favorite. He raised her since she was a kid.” Devon goes into more details and I force a smile at Daemon, hoping he isn't listening to us.

I nod and pick up the glass. It's made up of thick crystalline material which reflects the lights of the surroundings as prism. I gingerly take a sip, the drink is smooth as honey but tastes like lemonade.

“What is it?” I ask as I put the glass back down.

“It’s the juice from the fruits deep down the forest.” Devon drinks his in one shot.

“Tinuviel fell in love with Blake along the way and she didn’t realize it till she was captured. She and our leader made a deal.” Daemon pauses again to take a sip from his glass.

“Our leader used her blood to seal the gateway to our world. Many of us were fighting outside so we were left here. We don’t blame the king for what he did for it was necessary. Some of the sorcerers were fighting inside the gateway; they were also trapped and probably killed. Tinuviel escaped or was helped to escape. She was devastated when she found out that Blake was killed by none other than her own people so she vanished and her blood was the only key to open the gate. It took us centuries to find her bloodline, Dianne then you.”

I stare at Daemon and shudder. I am from Blake’s and Tinuviel’s bloodline. The last one at that.

“Don’t worry Adria for we won’t hurt you. When Dianne heard that we need blood sacrifice, she didn’t want to stay. She was human and the only trait she carried was prolonged life. So, it was possible that she could've died in the sacrifice. You, on the other hand are half human so we think you will survive.”

I shove the chair back and stand up as anger flares up inside me, “No! I can’t do this. You guys want to use me? Just like rest of the world?”

“Adria we're not asking you to right now. First, we want to discover your potential; we will not force you. We're not animals.”

“STILL!!” I shout. “I came here thinking I might have a family here, a happy ending and after an ‘interesting’ story you say that you need me for a sacrifice?” I cover my face with my hands and try hard to control my sobs. My body is shaking because of anger, hurt and fear.

“Daemon that is enough for today. Let her go and let her think!” Devon stands up as well and pulls me after him. He probably has read my mind and for once, I'm hoping that he has. I let him pull me after him for I have no strength, even to take a step.

I am finally able to breathe as we come out of the golden trees and pull my arm out of Devon’s grasp. He stops walking and turns to face me.

“You're strong Adria. Your mother took two days to digest all this and you took barely three hours.”

I hug myself and glare at him, “Don’t start. You guys need me to sacrifice myself just so you can go home?”

“It’s not like that. We just need your blood. A lot of it but it won’t kill you and it surely won’t kill you if you possess magic!”
“I don’t possess any magic” I hug myself tighter and turn to leave. He's no different either.

“You do Adria. Your mother did. The magic has been flowing through Blake’s bloodline because Blake was level ten and Tinuviel was a powerful sorceress and unlike other traits our magic dies down piece by piece due to inter human marriages. There could be inside you, you just need to realize that its there. Moreover your father was level eight, don’t think that you didn’t get anything from him!”
I bite my lip to stop myself from screaming and turn to face him, “Devon, stop it please. I don’t want to be here. I seriously don’t!!”

“Adria. I promise I won’t hurt you. After all this, you won’t feel like you belong anywhere. This is your home and you do have a family here and I bet on it that we won’t let anyone hurt you.”

“I need time.” And I really do need time to think this through and he's not wrong because this place pulled me towards itself. I didn’t even know where I was going when I was passing DreamTown and turned towards the forest instead.

He smiles sadly at me and nods, “You have time. We waited for five hundred years before we met your mother and additional twenty two years to see you. Time is all we can give you.”

“I’m sorry. I am really sorry.”
“Don’t be.” Devon hugs me tentatively and kisses my forehead before stepping back. “Go home and have some rest. You have been through a lot and if you need to talk to anyone, you can come here and call out my name, I will hear you and I will ask everyone to stay clear from this place. I've been watching you, saw how you felt peaceful and free here whenever you passed so I won’t let anyone change that for you and I promise you that I will not talk about the sacrifice and magic stuff unless you want me to.”

“They're hell lot of promises, Devon. I don't believe in them but I'm thankful towards you for saying them.”

Without a word, he winks before disappearing behind the invisible wall. One minute he's there, next minute he isn’t.

I slowly make my way back to the house as the sun rises behind me with my thoughts in disarry. What have I been thinking. This is a dream, I pinch my arm and cry out in pain. Ok, not a dream.

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