Going Home (Going Home#1)

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Eric: Decision


Devon was wrong when he’d told us that we’d end up creating a bond if Adria were to create a wall around my thoughts.

It was just me creating something or having something of hers in my mind. When she’d helped me build up walls in my mind against that guy, she’d left something of her own mind in mine, and it’s the reason I always feel what she feels to an extent. Her feelings are always there at the back of my head like something foreign.

I’m not sure she can read my emotions or feelings. She would’ve said so if she could.

I feel her emotions. By now, getting to know her made me change the way I saw her. Before everything, all I used to think about her was as a cool, mysterious girl who oozed off confidence, but now I can see that she was scared most of the time and tired, as she has mentioned. She is afraid of losing or giving up the will to fight. It has been five years for her since her mother died, and she’s fighting. She’s lost her desires and doesn’t know what she wants anymore.

I’d noticed her confusion when Devon asked what she planned on doing when all this was over. She strongly believes that she’s the sacrifice and she’ll die, so she has no plans on what to do and what she wants. Devon told us that she has the choice to walk away as her mother did, but Adria insists that one day someone will have to sacrifice herself to make sure everyone goes back home, or there will always be people after them, after the abilities they have.

I’m afraid that when the time will come, and everything will clear up, she’ll give herself up to Pneumas, and I dread that time. The thought keeps me awake, but I don’t mention it.

Taking a deep sigh, I let myself relax and open my senses. I start hearing animals and old Cassiel humming as he looks after them. I hear leaves rustling in the early morning breeze, birds chirping up ahead deeper into the forest, and water flowing into the river ten minutes’ walk away from this storage. I turn to look at Adria as she snores softly, unlike before she sleeps peacefully with her hand still holding onto the sleeve of my shirt. I smile at her and drift off to sleep to these sounds around me.

♡♡

I have a bad dream; I see Adria standing in the front forest and bleed. Her blood gathers around her in a perfect circle, but she doesn’t move. Her back is turned towards me, so I can’t see her face. The forest around us is very dark, and the only light comes from a torch burning brightly in front of her. I see Daemon and Aura smile in absolute pleasure and excitement while Devon’s face is grim behind them as everyone watches her bleed. I try to call her, but my voice never comes out of my mouth. I keep trying anyway, and suddenly, I start choking.

I jolt awake and frantically look around. Sunlight streams through the cracks in the roof and walls of the storage, making it light up even more than it was when I’d drifted off to sleep. I was sleeping with my back towards Adria. I slowly turn to face her and try not to laugh when I see her sleeping diagonally with her legs on mine and her face further away into the opposite corner of her bed. I gingerly move my legs from under hers and stand up. My body is all stiff because of cotton sacks or not. They still were not as comfy as the mattresses at Aura’s.

I can still hear Cassiel working at the animal sheds, but he is singing or trying to sing anyway by now. I smile and quietly make my way down the stairs. They creak a lot, so I take steps cautiously.
I find Cassiel in the stable, singing to a white mare. It is the most beautiful animal I’ve ever seen. Its eyes are closed as if enjoying getting scrubbed and sang to.

“You’re up!” He says hoarsely without looking up at me. I perch on the stall’s small wooden wall and watch him work.

“I thought you would sleep longer.” He says again when I don’t reply.

“Yeah. I couldn’t sleep. Nightmare.” I look down and my hands. They are rougher now than before. I was raised in a rich family with servants looking after me, so I never did any work, and my hands were in better condition.

“Take the brush and help me scrub this lad.” Cassiel pats the mare lovingly and jerks his chin towards a bucket with a rag and a scrub. I pick it up and stand on the other side of the mare.

“He won’t do anything. Just go ahead!”

I gently scrub the mare. He simply rubs his head lightly on my arm and goes back to ignoring me. I laugh out loud, and Cassiel smiles at me from over the horse’s back.

“I kind of have the idea what you are planning.”

“What?” I stop to look at him.

“You are right about deciding to confront your grandmother!” He says casually and picks up the rag from the bucket.

“What...I...” I don’t know what to say. I didn’t even tell Adria or Devon about my planning to sneak out.

“I know you are worried about the girl. You care for her, right?” Cassiel wrings the rag and starts scrubbing the mare’s back again while I stare at him, not knowing what to say or even think.

“It’s my knack. I can predict the future only a few hours ahead and, in some cases, minutes. I don’t get involved, though.”

“Even if it means someone losing their life?” I ask incredulously. That is one hell of an ability to have.

“Yes, even so. I learned it the hard way.”

“Oh!”

“You can’t change the girl’s fate. She has made up her mind!”

I look down at my hands, “Isn’t there some way?”

“I’m afraid not. Even if she survives, she will outlive you.”

I gape at him, “What do you mean?”

“Our blood runs stronger in her, and we age slowly. Devon is in his early thirties. Does he look like he is?”

I barely shake my head as I try to bring around my mind to what he is saying.

“How old do you think I am?” Cassiel asks as he puts the rag down in the bucket and takes the scrub from my hands to scrub the mare from my side.

“You are... you are in your seventies?”

“Technically, yes, but no. We stop aging after we turn twenty-five, then every five years of a human life equals one in ours. This makes me two hundred and fifty years old, according to you, considering I’m seventy. So I’m the oldest one alive here. We hardly reach three hundred.”

I lean on the stall’s wall for support. “God!” This is kind of weird and hard to digest.

“Adria will age like us or partly like us. She might live to be well over a hundred, but I don’t think she will outlive one fifty. She is half-human nonetheless.”

“Still...” I whisper.

“She has the idea of this thing. Of course, her mother was only fractional Pneuma, but still, she aged slowly. I think it’s because she married one of us and carried a child with the same abilities.”
“Her mother...did you know her?”

He looks at me for a moment, thinking, then he says, “Yes, I did. She was different. Scared and in a foul mood most of the time. I have no idea what Argider saw in her”

“And you knew her dad?”
“Of course. I just told you I’m two hundred and fifty years old. Argider was a long descendant of our prince back in the days fighting off the sorcerers, so he got locked outside with the rest of us. Some of the people in his bloodline inherited two abilities but not at higher levels. Argider himself had three, but both at level eight. This is why everyone here avoids his daughter. From the ancient bloodline of the sorcerer whose blood was used to seal the gates, no one in five hundred years could open, and then, on the other hand, she has the blood of our royals.”

I press my temples as I try to digest all this.

“Why are you telling me this?”

Cassiel turns to look at me and smiles, “Some people here might not trust you, but I do. Because of my abilities, I can see multiple paths that you might take, and all of them are for us. I’m not a fool!”

I try to smile, “I can see why Devon trusts you.”

Cassiel chuckles, “That kid could never get over Argrider. He raised him.”

“Yes, he mentioned.”

At the moment I hear someone coming towards the stables,

“Someone’s coming!”

Cassiel quietly keeps on scrubbing, and I wait for the newcomer. It’s Devon.

“Cassiel....” He takes deep breaths, “I’m hungry!”

I try not to laugh aloud at Cassiel’s face when he turns to Devon, “You are here for the special lunch, are you not?”

“Well, why do you think I came this far?”

“Go and wake up, Adria. Let us eat together.”

“Okay.” He winks at me and leaves.

Cassiel puts his hand on my shoulder, “If you want to see your grandmother, I suggest you leave after lunch. Going alone at night will not do you any good.”

I look at him, “Why are you helping me?”

“Because we need answers before doing anything. And I want us to wait a while longer because my instincts tell me that everything is not how it looks like.”

“What if my grandmother kills me or something?”

He shakes his head and smiles, “Devon told me all about you, and from what I know, and she didn’t make you what you are just to kill you in the end.” He winks at me and follows Devon out of the stable.

I meet Adria, half away towards the storage.

“Thank God you’re here!” She grumbles as soon as she sees me.

“What do you mean?”

“I thought you left.”

I raise my eyebrows at her, “What do you mean ‘I left’?” I notice the way her ear tips turn bright red, and she turns her face away from me.

“Well, it was just a feeling...” She shrugs and joins Devon and Cassiel, who are trying to skin rabbits to roast. I try not to laugh as I follow them. This isn’t the time to mention her heart skipping a beat or her urge to reach out and touch me.

Cassiel, as Devon mentioned, could cook mouth-watering rabbit roast. No wonder Devon came running all the way here. It was a long way towards this place and even longer till the training grounds. Cassiel laughed at Adria when she asked if they had ever run out of animals and food.

“This forest goes on and on after the training grounds, girl. It is full of different animals and birds. We only eat meat on rare occasions.”

After eating, I pull Adria away from Devon and Cassiel and walk towards the training grounds,

“What is it?” She asks, confused.

I stop walking as soon I see the beams with my sight on which Devon taught us how to jump and balance. Adria is still learning.

“Eric, you okay?” She asks again, worried this time.

“I’m leaving. I mean not leaving as in running away but going to my grandmother’s.” Finally, I turn towards her. At first, I wanted to keep it a secret from her, but it wasn’t right. We need to trust each other, act together.

She stares at me in shock, “What... why?”

“I need answers, Adria. We need answers.” I try to explain urgently. “Look, I know she won’t kill me, ok? I can always come back here.”

“Are you nuts?” She snaps. “You can never come back here. You, of all people, should know that. Your grandmother will make sure that you don’t.”

“I’ll find a way! But, look, I have to do this. Without answers, without figuring out what is going on outside, we can’t just sit here.”

“Eric, you are safe here.” She holds my hands and squeezes, but I pull them back, out of her grasp with an effort. Now is not the time.

“Stop worrying about me, and for once, let me do something for you! Adria, you don’t have to bear the world’s burdens on your shoulders alone, you know?” I say amicably.

She folds her arms around herself, something she does a lot when she feels too exhausted to put up with everything. It takes every inch of strength in my body to stop myself from throwing my arms around her.

“Can I come with you then!?”

I shake my head, “No. My grandmother wants you more than anything.”

“Then...” I raise my hand to cut her off. “Adria, please. I will come back, ok?”

She looks down at her feet, “Fine. OK!”

“Look at me.”

“I’m fine. Just be careful! I can’t lose you too!”

“Look at me, Adria!” I tell her again, but she shakes her head.

“Just, don’t let these people toast you while I’m gone.”

She laughs shakily, and I realize that she is crying. Then, at that moment, I let all the walls crumble. I pull her into a hug, and she holds onto me tight.

“Now I kind of understand how Cyril felt about me!” She laughs into my shoulder.

“And how is that?”

“He wanted to protect me and worried about me all the time. Of course, I did too, but it was different.” She sobs.

“Ok, ok, stop crying.”

When I hear someone approaching, I don’t let her go. After a minute, I see Devon approaching. He smirks at me when he sees us in a hug, and I glare at him over Adria’s head.

“Cassiel told me. When are you leaving?” He asks and then clears his throat. Adria jerks back and quickly wipe away her tears before turning to face him.

“Now, I think. Cassiel said it isn’t wise to leave at night.”

“Yeah, he told me the same. Come on, let me guide you till the veil.” He winks.

“Sure, go ahead. I’ll follow you in a minute.”

Devon looks at me, then at Adria, then back at me before grinning crookedly.

Adria pretends to punch him, and he starts laughing.

“Ok, make it quick.” He walks away pantomiming, kissing faces.

“Bastard!” I shout with a laugh at his retreating back. We can hear his laughter when he disappears from view.

“Why was he laughing?” Adria asks me incredulously.

I shrug and try not to laugh myself.

“Anyway. Sorry, I cried.” She says as she makes imaginary designs in the grass with her toe.

“It’s ok. Really.” I try to figure out what she is feeling, and all I feel is protectiveness towards me and...and something else though it’s hardly there.

As I stand there watching her, she does something which I’d never dreamt that she would. She kisses me. At first, my mind doesn’t register what’s happening, but then I kiss her back—something I have wanted to do since that day at the café.

♡♡

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