Adria: Another Shelter
Devon meets us half a way towards Aura’s.
“What happened? Where did you two go?” He sounds panicked which is so unlike him.
“I sent Jade to Exeter five days ago, and she wanted to talk. It looks like people from Exeter are after me as well. Just what the hell am I?” I scowl and throw up my hands in frustration.
“My sister,” Eric clarifies as he avoids looking Devon directly into his eyes.
“Your sister?” Devon stares blankly at me and then at Eric.
“We have no idea what’s going on either, Devon. Eric’s sister is up to something in Exeter, and it’s definitely something that has to do with me.” I say instead, but he still keeps his eyes trained on Eric.
“What do they want from you?” He asks him after a while.
“I wish I’d know,” I reply instead and look up at the sky. It will be sunrise in a couple of hours.
“I think we should get some sleep.”
“Aren’t you going to ask what happened at the meeting?” Devon stares at me again.
“It didn’t work. Aura and Devon don’t know him?” I suggest dejectedly as he bites his lower lip.
“It’s not like that. Actually, it’s not like that at all. That guy? He killed... he killed your dad.” Devon avoids looking at my face, but I don’t really care anyway. I feel all the strength leave my body as I struggle to breathe. Before I can collapse, Eric puts his hand on my lower back, and I bend over, taking deep breaths.
“But... but Daemon said there’s no one like him!”
“Exactly. What is making me suspicious? Seeing the sketch, my mother denied knowing him, but Jaivyn blurted about him killing Argider. I don’t know who is on our side or what’s going on, but one thing is sure, we can’t trust my mother or Daemon and neither Jaivyn.”
“Can you tell us what exactly happened?” Eric asks for me.
“Yeah, sure, but I don’t think you guys should be staying at my place anymore. I don’t... I can’t protect you there. I can’t go against my family and everything they’ve believed in.”
“I just might know the place!” He winks at us and starts walking.
Eric puts his one arm around my shoulders as I fold my arms and follow Devon. I try my best to appear strong, but it’s tough. I just found out that my dad was murdered by the same guy who is after Eric.
Forcing myself to change my thoughts, I try not to shrug off Eric’s arm around my shoulders. I hate depending on others, and now I’m losing count of how many times Eric has been there for me. I could do whatever I wanted with Cyril, but with Eric, it isn’t that way anymore. If I tell him to leave me alone, unlike Cyril, he will never let me out of his sight for once. He’s stubborn and noisy, but I like it. I hate to accept it, but I like the feelings that course through me whenever I find him by my side.
Devon guides us towards the training grounds, and just before the animal sheds, he stops at a small storage-like room filled with fodder and other things.
“Climb up the stairs towards the rightmost corner. It might stink a little but you guys have no choice. Only old man Cassiel comes here, so you don’t have to worry about him telling anyone about this.”
I stare blankly at the storage room. It’s huge with a terrace inside on all four sides and hay-filled up till the terrace’s floor on the ground level.
Eric folds his hands above his head as he looks above.
“Let’s check how much space we have, which is comfortable.”
He gingerly takes my hand, and I follow him upstairs.
Devon stands there watching us for a few moments, “Let me bring your things.”
As soon as he leaves, Eric lets go of my hand. I stare at his back as he moves ahead and looks around. The terrace is filled with sacks, tools, stones, cotton, and other such things. I hug myself as I kick away a small stone and follow him.
“How do they get all this stuff? It’s not like the ones with changing stuff abilities do all this.” Eric wonders out loud, and I smile at him. I can see that he is trying to distract me, and I really appreciate it because now I’m curious as well.
“Remember, Devon mentioned they always send scouts out. Just to keep up with the world outside?” I suggest and look around for some place to sit.
“Still how? I mean, wouldn’t anyone notice if someone absolutely gorgeous goes around buying stuff?”
“I think it has something to do with the invisibility veil that Daemon can make. He said there are others like him as well.”
Eric whistles, impressed “Just like an invisibility cloak.”
I smile as I perch on a small cart in the corner. I fold my arms around my knees and put my chin on them as I silently watch him throw sack after sack, making faces and muttering. I wonder if he knows that he talks to himself a lot. His hair stand at weird angles, and he’s got dirt on the left cheek, but he keeps working, oblivious. As I keep looking at him, I feel my stomach flip pleasantly, and I shove down the urge to wipe that dirt off his cheek. I try not to notice how good he looks in the dark blue tee he’s wearing over black jeans. I feel my cheeks flame, and I look away.
“What do you think these people sell?” He asks after a while as he stops and wipes his forehead, glistening with sweat by now. It’s mid-September, and the weather is changing but sometimes it feels hot. I look anywhere but into his eyes as I reply.
“I don’t know. With them fully capable of turning a stone into the real gold piece, I don’t want to think much about this!”
“You suck.” He grins and goes back to work.
I’ve been hiding all my life, and I hate it. I want to march to Eric’s grandmother’s house and confront her, but deep down, I know it’s not safe. I can’t make the same mistake of rushing and turning things over as I did a year ago. I can’t lose someone else because of one stupid, impatient mistake; I won’t be able to take it this time.
I wish that Cyril and others make out their way around Verona safely. I wanted to tell them to run but I know they can’t and won’t. They’re not like me.
I don’t know who Verona is but if she is someone who her only brother well despises, I choose to bet that she’s someone not to be messed with.
“I think it’s possible that your grandmother wanted you here, so she asked Verona to make sure you come here without any contact with the real world,” I say without lifting up my head, knowing that Eric is listening. He’s always aware of what I’m doing or how I’m feeling.
“You’re right, but still, I want to ask questions. I want to confront my grandmother but I know its not easy. God, what has become of us?” He sits down cross-legged on the sacks he’s piled up to make a make-shift bed. He pats the place next to him for me to go down and join him.
As I stand up, Devon appears holding onto our belongings, which aren’t much, with an old man in tow.
He’s very old, and he doesn’t say anything but just leaves our stuff on the floor beside Eric. We don’t have much. I have a couple of clothes borrowed from Aura, and Eric’s got his sketchbooks with a few clothes of his own. His shirts don’t match with the jeans and pants he’s brought. I’m sure he grabbed whatever he got his hands on.
The clothes Aura gave me fit perfectly, unlike the ones I’d been using at Orla’s. They make it easier when training. I’d asked Devon why he was so intent on teaching us to defend ourselves, and all he told us was that we had many people against us, even among Pneumas. They considered me a sacrifice, and because of elders allowing me to wander around and support Eric, they were mad. All of them are anxious to go back to the place they were living, and for that, they don’t care if I live or die.
I couldn’t learn much in three and half days than practicing mental abilities on Devon, who was an equal match, and he had the somewhat upper hand because he was an expert. My other two abilities didn’t come off good because there was no one to train me, with our priority to keep it a secret, and all Devon could be to tell me whatever he knew.
“Rest a few hours and meet me on the training grounds? I asked few trusted elders to visit us. And Eric, I told them that you have reflexes, and Adria has mental abilities like mine. Keep the others to yourself, but you can ask casual questions about them. If anything goes wrong, stay away as far as you can. However strong you might be, if all these people stand against you, you won’t be able to breathe even.”
Eric looks up from his bag at that, “Can I take it that you were not kidding when you mentioned that there are people who can make us choke without touching or anything.”
Devon shakes his head at him, “Yes, Eric, there are.”
I walk up to him and put my hands on his shoulders, “We’ll be fine, Devon. Just rest, ok?”
He hugs me tight, “God, Adria, I wish I could protect you both. I owe your father a lot.”
“You do?” I look up at him and see the grief that overtakes his face.
“He raised me. My mother was so... I don’t know what she wanted from me. You and I both got our common abilities from your dad. I never knew my father, all I knew was that he died before I was born when some sickness overtook us, but it has changed now. Turns out that he was... he was...” He stops.
“I’m sorry,” I say.
“Don’t be.” He squeezes me once before letting go and waves at Eric over my shoulder, who waves back without looking up from his sketchbook.
The sacks Eric has piled up are hard under me. I toss and turn, mind whirling and sleep farther away.
“I still want to visit my grandmother you know?” Eric speaks up softly after some time.
“Can’t sleep, can you?”
“Same can be said about you?” I say, turning to face him only to find him already turned towards me. Sunlight streams in from between cracks in the shed, and few rays fall on Eric’s head making his hair appear light brown and his eyes bright green.
“I just can’t stop thinking.” He whispers, his eyes fixed on mine. Suddenly conscious, I turn on my back.
“And I’m scared of the nightmares that haunt me.”
“About what?” He whispers as if he’s scared that I’d turn away and not reply.
“Courtesy of being abused all my teen years and murder. I guess it’ll take longer to get over them with the recent turn of events.”
“I wish I could help.” At his words, I turn my head to look at him beside me. I want to tell him that I’m grateful that he’s here. That he took the first step to get to know me despite the threats I posed.
He has worry lines forming on his forehead, and I reach out to press my finger between his eyebrows.
“It’s going to be alright. After all that suffering, I believe that it’ll be alright.” I let my tears flow down my eyes and rest my hand on his shoulder. He squeezes my hand without turning to face me, “And I wish I had means to take all this away from you. I had an easy life minus strict dad, but everything else was easy, and I feel like I’m useless when I look at you.”
“Don’t. Neither of us chose our lives. The best we can do is make the most of it.”
“Yeah.” He keeps holding my hand, and just like that, watching him stare at the roof and sunlight falling on his hair, I fall asleep, and this time, I don’t have a single nightmare.