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Chapter 3 ~ Rena's Companion

K i a n

The sun set a couple of hours ago, but unlike Rena I’m still wide awake. I don’t even understand how she can sleep so peacefully after what happened earlier, but then I suppose she’s not the one who had a blade shoved up against her throat.

I watch her as she sleeps. I’m sat across from her, the ash and embers of what had been a fire lay between us.

She refused to speak to me or even look at me for the rest of the evening after her outburst attempt at killing me. I can only assume she was extremely embarrassed about her actions due to her grumpiness.

I’ve quickly taken notice that when she feels humiliated she tends to get angry, though I couldn’t help but notice that look she had in her eyes. The kind of look an cornered animal gives you when it feels threatened, when it’s been caged. For the first time since I’ve met Rena, she actually seemed as though she was afraid.

So while she had distanced herself from both Barnie and myself, I had spent that time brooding over her.

Just by the short few days time I had spent with her I had developed a basic understanding of my new companion. She’s rude, short tempered, extremely secretive and if I’m honest a dead mule has more social skills than she does, but there’s something there, just under all that beneath the surface. It was all for show, an act I keep telling myself confident that throughout our journey she will warm to me eventually, I hope.

I still can’t help but think of Maya every time I look at her, even now the resemblance scares me. Though their characters and natures are complete opposites, I’m almost certain that they come from the same family. They’re practically identical after all.

I reach up and touch the small scab Rena left there when she’d pushed her dagger into my neck.

It’s strange, but it doesn’t affect me or even anger me thinking about what Rena had attempted to do. Deep down I kind of expected it when she had agreed to let me tag along. My kind were the reason she was born and bred a slave the day she came into this broken world.

I’m not saying the act itself didn’t shock me a little, but it makes me think she must be in serious trouble for her to suddenly attack me in that kind of manner, as if I could be a danger to her, the girl who sleeps with a dagger under her arm. Most of her kind have a problem with demons, then again she might just have something against me. All I can think about is that she is an impure one and that she shouldn’t be on her own, purely down to the laws set down by the demon queen.

All I can assume is that she is running, though from what she won’t admit it and I can’t decipher. She seems pretty adamant about keeping her past a secret but I will get the truth out of her eventually and finally my questions will be answered. Her air of mystery will no longer faze me.

It’s a warm night and the recent events of our journey begin to finally catch up with me. My eyelids droop heavily and I don’t object when the silky mists of dream take over, coaxing me into its warm embrace. Darkness shrouds my vision and I slip off into a dreamless sleep, while a protective Barnie lies awake guarding his slumberous friends, forever watching.

R e n a

I wake up to sunshine. A very rare thing to happen in the likes of Aldevia due to the fact that the sky is always filled with dark menacing clouds and forever tainted the rusty colour of blood.

Though today it seems, the sun has managed to slip through the thickest of cloud and seems to brighten up my day. But it doesn’t last for long, when I realise that both Barnie and Kian are nowhere to be found.

For a long moment I don’t know what to do with myself and just sit there on our rooftop campsite, alone with my thoughts.

“I’ll kill him” I say aloud, finally breaking the thick silence.

The image of me holding a dagger to Kian’s throat suddenly resurfaces in my mind and within seconds I feel my guilt returning, then my embarrassment.

I glance quickly up at the sun and then at Kian’s empty blankets, all folded neatly by his satchel.

My guilt only lasts a few short minutes as my anger takes over once again. I pull out a leather strip from my satchel and use it to tie my hair up out of my face and into a mildly long trail of red that reaches down, just between my shoulder blades. A few wild strand fall over my face, but it doesn’t bother me, my mind is elsewhere.

I can’t do anything about my anger or Kian until his return, so I focus my attention on clearing the campsite and getting ready to leave.

My thoughts keep flying back to Kian and Barnie, which probably isn’t the best idea seeing that they are the reason for my anger. Barnie at least knows me well and will keep his distance, Kian sadly hasn’t figured this out yet and the poor sucker is going to end up making me really lose my temper. I actually feel sorry for him, I really do. Who knows what I’ll do to him when he comes back. One of those irritating grins, the kind he has plastered all over his face and he’s had it.

How is it that everything turns into a problem when he is around?

K i a n

Making my way back to the campsite might prove itself to be a bit of a challenge, because I’m lost.

I’d woken up early this morning with the urge to be back down on the streets. I just needed to get away. Maya was on my mind again. I can’t shake the guilt, the need to turn back and find her though it may be too late, though I’m sure Rena wouldn’t even consider this as an option.

I left while Rena slept, looking so peaceful even innocent in her slumber. I stood watching her for a moment before I finally took my leave. I didn’t want to wake her and I didn’t bother with a note, I figured she’d still be asleep by the time I got back.

That was hours ago.

Barnie decided to join me and so we walked around the streets quietly. The streets are practically empty and so I can think calmly, the only thing is I’m not in a part of Aldevia I recognise and so I get lost pretty easily and very quickly.

This is when I start to panic, Rena is bound to be awake now and to find my bed empty and Barnie missing too, well, let’s just say she isn’t going to be happy about it.

I pace around the street for a bit longer, when I happen to come by the small market place I passed on my way down.

I have a few coins on me and so I buy some small loaves of bread and then slowly attempt to find my way back to the campsite.

Soon enough I manage to find the drainpipe I’d climbed down earlier, but by now it’s about midday and I begin to really worry about how Rena will react when I get back.

I just hope to the Gods that she doesn’t attempt to kill me again.

R e n a

It’s midday coming up early afternoon when Kian finally shows his face. By this time my anger has hit an all time high. He walks up to me a little hesitant from what I can see but guess what, that stupid, irritating grin is there.

His calmness and that grin is all I need to fuel my rage and just as he opens his mouth to speak, my fist connects with his jaw.

I send him sprawling while I stand there clenching and unclenching my fist. All I have to do is glare at Barnie and he’s off, soaring up into the sky before I can get my hands on him too.

Kian stands up and takes his hand away from his swollen lip, now covered in blood.

I watch him as he stares at the blood on his fingers and then back at me. “What the hell was that for?!”

“Did you even consider for one second that I’d wake up and wonder where the hell you were?” I yell at him.

He looks at me in surprise for a moment, but then he raises his eyebrows and his annoying grin returns. “Why Rena, were you actually worried about me?”

He has no idea what he’s got himself into, by the Gods this boy is really asking for it. I stride up to him and before he has a chance to block me I punch him in his stomach, standing over him as he hunches over, squirming in pain.

“Sorry” he manages to splutter between gasps.

My anger diminishes and is replaced by a whole new feeling, something I’m not used to; guilt.

I bite my lip, a thing I haven’t done since I was a child, a sign of my unsureness.

I suddenly remind myself of why he angered me and turn around ignoring his pain, this part of me he seems to bring out is stronger than I can anticipate and I don’t like it. When he’s around it seems like I can’t even trust myself.

I walk away and slum into a corner. Barnie attempts to hop over, but one glare and he backs off, deciding it would be best if he stayed out of my way. In the mood I’m in, I tend to agree.

After a while Kian manages to stand up and attempts to hand me some bread he must have bought while down in the streets. Though a part of me is slightly relieved that I didn’t hurt him too badly, I still ignore his gesture and blank him completely. He’d better not think that I’ll be forgiving his actions anytime soon.

After a certain amount of time sitting alone in the corner, I get up and continue to put all our things together. Kian watches me do this and packs up his things getting ready to head out.

I watch the sky darken as the evening slips over us and I smile, there is nothing better than an evening trek. I grin over my shoulder as I glance over at Kian, wondering how he will cope with the long night ahead of us.

I murmur the runes under my breath, my arm heating up as I use my marks power to better my eyes for the oncoming dark.

It’s payback time and this is going to be fun.

K i a n

Rena really must have it in for me. We haven’t rested for hours and I can barely see a thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if I fell of one of the rooftops any second. Another problem, Rena is still mad at me for earlier and no matter how many times I apologise, she refuses to speak to me.

My stomach aches and lip is swollen from when she bashed me about earlier. I must admit, I didn’t expect her to be so rough

I must have just been my imagination, but after she’d battered me half to death I could’ve sworn she looked guilty. She was biting her lip and all, just the way Maya does when she was hiding something.

The difference is Rena is a continuous mystery I don’t think I’ll ever be able to solve.

I can tell by her footsteps that she is way ahead of me, I know I really need to catch up but I’m pretty apprehensive about doing so. I could easily fall over the edge. I know for a fact that Rena is most likely enjoying every second of my suffering, this is probably more payback for earlier. She really isn’t going to forgive me easily.

I only disappeared for a few hours, yet she treats me as though I’ve committed treason. This strange girl has some serious trust issues and the more I think about it, the more I wonder why.

R e n a

It’s been two whole days since I’ve spoken to Kian and even I’m beginning to think that I may have been overstepping the mark by giving him such a hard time. We haven’t really stopped to rest and he looks exhausted and seems very withdrawn, his usual chatter lost in the dark and enveloped in silence.

We’re almost at the border of the southern part of Aldevia and I’d really like to make it there as soon as possible. From what I judge, it’s only a few days journey from where we are now and I know I could make it. The problem is I know for a fact that Kian can’t. He isn’t used to this constant travelling and I can see just by the look on his face that it’s taking its toll on him.

I sigh and come to a halt, pulling my heavy load off my back and dropping it by my feet. I look around and nod to myself, this spot is as good as any to make camp for a couple of nights.

I hear Kian’s bag land on the floor with a loud thud and I turn around to face him.

I can see him watching me, unsure of my next actions. I can only blame myself for that, I’ve been rough with him. Sometimes he deserved it but my shortness is due to loneliness.

I’m so used to being on my own and watching my own back, that I often forget what it’s like to have company. I haven’t had it in so long it feels so alien. Barnabus has always been good company until I compare him to someone that can talk back, it never occurred to me that it would bother me at all, until now.

I manage a smile and this shocks him, I can tell by the wary look in his eyes.

“We’ll stay here for a couple of nights, get our strength back” I say.

He smiles with relief and slumps to the floor. I leave him lying there alongside Barnie and set up camp. A little while later, I glance over at Kian as I finish setting up the tent. A smile crawls across my face as I realise that the poor boy has fallen asleep right where I watched him collapse only minutes ago.

He doesn’t even stir when I try to wake him or even when I pull him out of the open and under the safeness of the makeshift tent.

As I watch him sleep, an odd warm sensation creeps over me and I can’t help but smile. Slowly, I begin to inch forward, my fiery curls start to slip over my shoulders and dance around my cheeks when I suddenly realise what I’m doing and pull back as though I had just been burnt, my veins wired with electricity.

I shake my head, but it doesn’t seem to clear my thoughts and so I attempt to get all these ridiculous ideas off my mind by checking our food supply.

They’re low due to our new addition and so I decide to poke around the streets and see what I can find before Kian wakes up. I think I need the air and the time away from him. Hopefully being on my own for a short while will help clear my head and let me arrange my thoughts.

As I stand up to leave, I can’t help but glance down at Kian. The thought of my previous actions makes my whole body shudder. Out of disgust or out of thrill I can’t really say, I feel so unsure of myself, all these thoughts and emotions making me feel conflicted. I can feel the blood rush into my face, making my cheeks redden and I look away.

I think maybe, it’s time to go.

K i a n

I don’t remember falling asleep or even moving under the tent, but I must have done because when I awaken it’s evening and I’m safe under the canopy.

Rena has started a small fire and seems to be cooking something. If I’m honest, it smells so good it has my mouth watering. I’m surprised to find that I’m still weary, but it’s hunger that is gnawing at me now.

Barnie is beside me, but in seconds he has flown over to Rena and has settled himself on her shoulder. He’s been very cautious of her for the past two days, flying off at any sudden move she made. But if he is brave enough to perch himself happily on her shoulder, then he must know that she has calmed down and so I suppose I’ll be safe too. If I’m not, well then I will know who exactly to blame.

I pull myself out from the tent and sit myself beside her and watch as she engulfs some sort of meat in the flames.

I glance over at her and I catch her watching me for a split second before returning her gaze and concentration onto the meal she’s preparing. Maybe it’s the light or the heart of the fire, but it looks as though she’s blushing. I shake my head and chuckle quietly to myself.

Now I know I must be going mad.

First of all it doesn’t fit her description at all and secondly if she were, what on earth would she of all people be blushing about.

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see her looking at me as if confused. I must have chuckled a little louder than I realise. I turn back round to face her, but once again she avoids my gaze.

She hands me some of the cooked meat with some bread and mumbles something incoherently, before standing up and sitting herself down on the other side of the rooftop. After a moment or two, Barnie hops over to her. This time though, I don’t dare.

I shake my head in utter confusion as I eat my meal. By the Gods this girl kept getting stranger and stranger.

R e n a

Eating with him had proved difficult. To be honest, just being in his presence has suddenly become an impossible challenge for me, the thoughts in my mind hard to ignore, especially as when the cause sudden urges like earlier today. If I had really believed a long stroll along the streets would help to clear my head, I had been horribly mistaken. In fact, it had only made things worse and even more confusing if that is even possible.

I can’t even look at him now without feeling my face heat up and trust me when I say it isn’t anger that I’m feeling. I just wish I knew what it was, maybe if I did it wouldn’t be such a problem. Maybe then, I could learn how to deal with these strange new urges. Maybe it’s an illness or even a strange phase females go through because even with my previous encounters in the past, nothing like this ever emerged within me.

The thing is, the more I think about it the more it baffles me. When I left on my stroll, my mind kept making feeble excuses to go so naturally me being me, I panicked at this thought process and decided to stay away even longer. When I eventually returned, he was still deep in slumber and I decided then to keep my distance.

This it seems, is proving harder than I originally thought seeing as he my constant companion. Is this the feeling I’d experienced once before, the sacred bond of friendship. It’s nothing like how I’d felt then but I wouldn’t know what else it could be. I mean it feels special enough, but then what do I know, the one person in this world I called my friend is dead, his spirit long gone, ascended to the Gods.

Maybe it’s a different form, that’s why I feel so different around him, he’s the only one to bring out this new side to me. A side I never even knew about until I met him.

Even though it came over me irregularly at first, it seems to be taking over a lot more lately and getting stronger. Something I’m not sure I like.

I glance over at the tent where I can see him sleeping peacefully and I bite my lip.

I feel bad. Bad for avoiding him like this and not explaining why. Bad for the way I have treated him so far. But until I can understand this strange new sensation myself, I think it would be best if I stayed at a distance. I can only hope I’m doing the right thing.

K i a n

The heat is immense and the flames are everywhere. Flickering, twisting, spitting. Licking my body as I run. Though I can’t feel it, at the same time I can and it hurts. It hurts so badly but I keep on running.

Running and running my legs never stopping forever moving, but why?

Then I see her, floating in midair a little way ahead of me. It’s Rena.

No it isn’t. It’s Maya.

I scream her name, but it’s like she can’t hear me.

I run faster, reaching out for her as I scream for her.

It makes no difference though, she can’t hear me and I can’t reach her, she’s just too far. Tears prick in my eyes as I realise I will never be able to reach her.

Then she turns her head. She looks at me.

Her mouth is shaping in a scream as she calls for me, her hands outstretched. I run for her, her name repeating itself on my lips.

As I get closer, the flames grow higher and engulf her, pulling her into their burning embrace.

“No!” I scream as she disappears from my view. I’ve lost her, again.

I scream her name over and over, but no one replies.

Suddenly I’m being shaken, pulled away from the flames until they too have become shrouded in darkness, my mind becoming ashen as I’m plucked from the land of nightmares.

I wake up to Rena shaking me. I hear screaming and after a few seconds, I suddenly realise it’s me. I look up at Rena whose face is wracked with concern.

I stop screaming and breathe deeply for a few long minutes, my body twitching and jolting from shock.

My body is covered in a sheen of sweat and my hair plastered to my forehead. For a moment or two, I lie there in a daze.

Then I remember the dream, the horrifying nightmare that’s shaken me to the core. I feel its effects ice on a burning body, the blind horror of the remnants it left behind.

Against my will, my body begins to tremble as I remember the details of the dream.

Suddenly I’m pulled up into a warm embrace. I stiffen for a second before I realise that I’m safe and relax into it, relieved as her arms hold all the pieces of me that are currently falling apart. I nuzzle my chin into her neck, the smell of her hair smoky and almost rusty and let myself relax into her, the tears falling willingly.

“Ssh, you’re safe now” I hear her whisper as she sways me slightly, her hand stroking the back of my head down to the nape of my neck..

I want to thank her. Thank her for saving me from my nightmares, for holding me close and calming my hammering heart, for keeping it together as I fall apart.

I want to tell her I’m fine, but we both know that would be a lie of epic proportion.

And as I go to try and speak, only one word can form on my lips in a small whispering whimper.


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