chapter two - aster eira
Everything is a blur. One second I’m upstairs in my room getting yelled at by this girl, and the next there’s guards climbing in the windows.
We had defeated them, and I was surprised at how powerful she was, but we didn’t get them before the Glow Bow was shot into her chest.
I can’t move or speak, and everyone’s moving around me to help her. I wanted to, but the thing was, I didn’t really care. I force myself not to care about others anymore, after what happened with my old family. I feel my body stiffen, freezing cold, as the demons of the past take over my mind. . .
I watch with a smile as Ayaz chases Katherine through the woods, launching fireballs at her as she easily dodges them. Soon Ayaz stops running and sighs. “I give up,” he laughs, throwing his hands up in surrender. “She’s too good,”
Katherine giggles and flicks snow in his face, walking over to me. “And why aren’t you joining the fun, old man?” she grabs the front of my shirt, pulling me to stand up, pulling me in to kiss her. I can feel her smile against my lips.
I push her away, and shoot a snowball right in her face. She stands there shocked, then bursts into laughter, falling to the ground next to Ayaz. I decide to lay next to her. “I never want this to end,” Katherine says, her white hair glimmering against the snow.
“Me, too,” Ayaz immediately agrees. “I love it here.”
I silently nod. I didn’t want it to end either. Ayaz was my best friend, and Katherine was my girlfriend. Ayaz had to go back to the fire kingdom in 2 weeks, for good. He had spent 10 years in Nix, the kingdom of snow and ice, because his parents didn’t want him. But now they did. It was maddening. We never thought anything could tear us apart.
“Well, we have to make the most of it,” I declare, standing up. “We need to do all of our favorite things.
When they don’t move I shoot snow from my hands, burying them so they can’t be seen. Their heads pop up, and I know they are thinking of how to kill me. ‘Here we go!’ I think, and run away into the forest.
I loved this. Acting like a child, having fun.
I didn’t know it was about to end.
“ASTER,” Valentina’s scream makes me jump. “Help?!”
I kneel down next to Morana, my hands hovering over her, not knowing what to do.
“What the hell do we do?” Zeke yells.
“Pull the arrow out,” I say, “She’ll lose more blood, but if we keep it in the poison will spread faster,”
Almost immediately, Morana grabs the arrow and rips it out of her stomach, letting out a yell. Blood flows from the wound. I whip off my shirt to help slow the bleeding. “What now?” Blaze asks.
“Let’s carry her to the bed so she can rest. She won’t die, the Glow Bow is a very slow, painful killing poison, which is bad and good. It gives us more time to come up with a plan,” I reply, standing to pick her up. Zeke is staring at me, and I search his eyes to figure out if he hates me, or is thankful.
I carry Morana to her room and set her on the bed. Right when I set her down, she starts yelling at me. “I didn’t even get to yell at you for being extremely rude to my brother, but now I’m dying and it’s mostly your fault,”
“How is it my fault? You’re the one that chased me upstairs,” I shoot back.
“The guards burst in, and you froze. You just stood there, and then they shot me. I cannot believe you. How are you even part of the ‘prophecy’? You seem weak.” she rolls her eyes.
I put my hand on her throat, but she doesn’t choke. She just stares at me with hate, her hand on my wrist. “How dare you underestimate me? I’m stronger than you’ll ever be,” I push down on her neck more, then release it.
As soon as I do, I’m up in the corner of the ceiling, trapped there. Morana has her hands out. She shouldn’t be able to use her powers. She just got shot by a Glow Bow. She throws me around the room, and the impact of hitting the walls knocks the life out of me. I thrust an ice spike at her, and she catches it, throwing it back. Suddenly I have ropes of starlight around my wrists. I try to use my power to turn them to ice and break it, but I can’t.
“What are you doing?” I demand.
“I can’t use my powers!” I say angrily.
Morana’s hands drop, and the weight on my wrists lift. Her face is hard to read. “I don’t know what I-”
I walk up to her. “You may think you’re sneaky, but I won’t fall for your little tricks. Whatever you just did, don’t ever do it again.”
“I don’t need a man telling me what to do.” she replies harshly, then slaps me across the face.
“You bitch,” I spit, then storm out of the room.
I hate her. I hate her so much. Why did she have to point out that I got nervous around the guards? They killed my best friends. I hated her for bringing that up. I hate my life right now. Everything was ruined when they died. I wish the soldiers of the Night Queen had just killed me with them. It would’ve been so much easier. Then I wouldn’t have to live this miserable life. I wanted to die, and I wanted to kill her too.
But I couldn’t.
Part of me was drawn to her. Maybe we were alike. Shut up Aster, I tell myself, no one is going to replace Katherine. I felt we had the same edgy personality. And her dark black hair and icy blue eyes. . . why did she have to be so damn . . . beautiful? I slam my head against the wall to snap out of it, and then practically fly down the stairs, finding the others talking about how they could save her.
“Finally,” Idalia mutters as I sit down. “Aster, you know the most about weapons here. Any ideas?”
Zeke scoffs. I know he’s thinking he knows the most. “There has never been a painkiller or a cure for the Glow Bow. No one has ever figured it out.” I say.
“So you’re saying Morana is as good as dead?” Idalia asks.
I nod. “Pretty much.”
“Do you want her to die?” Zeke asks, looking directly at me. “It seems like it.”
“Eh,” I shrug.
Zeke gives me the death stare. “Blaze, what are you thinking?” He asks.
He inhales, then speaks, “Okay, so we all are here because of the prophecy right? Our purpose is to take over Puterra and rule it. It was made so there would be good rulers, unlike the Night Queen. And to take over Puterra, we need to kill the Night Queen, but that’s all besides the point. What I’m saying is, all of us were born with a special power no one else in our society has. Zeke has his darkness thing, Idalia’s light is a shield. Well, I can heal. My heat, my fire, can heal wounds. That’s why I barely have any big scars from my time at the Night Palace, because my body just healed itself. So do you think I could heal Morana?”
“Are you the only one in your whole Society that can heal?” Zeke asks.
“Yes, if I wasn’t the Night Queen wouldn’t want me,” Blaze rolls his eyes.
I realize Valentina’s been quiet the whole time. “Valentina. . . anything to say?”
Her face goes pink, and she answers too quickly, “No.”
Zeke stands up and walks to her. “That’s not convincing. You answered too fast,”
Her eyes are wide. She’s afraid, which means she knows something. “She knows something,” I say. “She’s scared you’ll do something to her, and she wouldn’t be scared if she had nothing to hide,”
Zeke’s darkness swirls around his fingertips, and into Valentina. She starts choking, and her nose starts bleeding. “If you know anything you need to say it now, or I will kill you with no hesitation.”
“I- don’t- know-” she’s gasping for air.
No one says anything to protect her, they are afraid. Zeke’s angry.
Zeke twists his hand, and blood starts coming out of her eyes and ears. I watch in awe. I wanted people to stay away from me, to be afraid of me. He was lucky, but he didn’t think so. I started hating everyone ever since my friends died. “What is it, Valentina, or so help me I will drag on your death and it will be so painful you’ll beg me to make it quick,”
“I’ll- I’ll tell you. . .” she scratches at her neck, as if there’s a rope around it she’s trying to grasp.
Zeke drops his hand and she takes a huge breath, and falls onto her hands, coughing, crying and panting. Everyone else is silent.
“What is it?” Zeke steps towards her, and she backs away.
“When I was. . . when I was training to be a Warrior at the Night Palace, they taught us how to heal a Glow Bow, just in case there was ever a war and we had Dark Ones on our side. I think that’s the reason the Night Queen wanted Blaze so badly. You need a healer, and-uh-”
“Spit it out,” Blaze is the first one in the others to speak.
“You need a healer and the queen’s blood.”
Zeke stumbles backward, dumbfounded by the news. Idalia gasps.
“Well then Morana can die,” I say, “I’m not going anywhere near that palace,”
Zeke grabs my shoulder and spins me around. “What the fuck man? She’s my sister. I could kill you, too, and make you feel like you’ve been hit by a Glow Bow.”
“You know what Zeke, go ahead. I’m getting kind of sick and tired of you running this freak show. Who put you in charge? We shouldn’t fear you, you’re the one with problems.” I fight back.
“Guys, stop. . .” Idalia intervenes.
“Actually, no, Idalia, I’m not going to stop until this weak wannabe is dead.” Zeke steps forward.
“Stop acting all powerful! You’re just threatening to kill all of us! What are you gonna do when we’re all dead, huh? Fulfill the so-called prophecy by yourself? Hell, I don’t even want to be here. So go ahead, kill us. See how that goes for you.” I spit.
I see darkness coming from Zeke’s fingertips, so I immediately take action. I push him against the wall and shoot my ice at his hands. I make an icicle and stab it into his leg. He doesn’t cry out, he just grunts. “See, you’re not the only powerful one here.” I smirk.
He bangs his head against mine, sending me stumbling backwards. The ice on his hands turns black, then explodes into tiny pieces. No one has ever done that before, I’m stunned, usually my ice was extremely strong. But Zeke is stronger.
No. I had to prove to him he wasn’t some alpha or whatever he was trying to be.
He shoots his Shadow at me, and I see it coming. I use my ice to jump to the ceiling and stay there. It was kind of like Spiderman, but with ice. I throw a snowball at his face, catching him off guard. I jump down and punch him in the face one, two, three, four times. He grasps for the wall behind him, lowering his fingers from his nose, showing dark red blood.
He grins in a psychotic way, and starts laughing. I punch him again, and again, but he just continues laughing. “FIGHT BACK YOU COWARD,” I scream.
His laugh drones on until he says, “You really shouldn’t have done that,”
He holds his arm out, shooting me across the wall.
Does this kid have telekinesis too or what?
His Shadow creeps out of his hand like a snake, coming towards me. I struggle but I can’t move against the wall. His Shadow wraps around my neck, tightening.
“Zeke, stop it!” Idalia screams.
He doesn’t. It’s like he can’t even hear her. He’s just focused on me.
Or focused on killing me.
Blaze lunges at Zeke’s arm, but Zeke throws him off like he’s a feather.
My throat is tightening, I’m choking, grasping at my throat as if I can pull his Shadow away from my neck.
“Zeke you’re -” Valentina starts, but then she faints. Zeke’s doing.
My head feels like it’s about to explode, but there’s a huge flash of light, making Zeke yell and put his arms in front of his face. I fall to the ground, coughing and gasping for breath. I look up, and Morana is standing there.
“What. The. Hell.” she says angrily.
All I can think is, she looks terrible. Her skin is clammy and even paler than it usually is. There’s droplets of sweat on her forehead. Her jet black hair is sticking to her skin because she’s hot and sweaty. Dark purple circles hang under her bloodshot eyes.
“Do I really have to come down here…” her voice is angry as she stomps in between me and Zeke, “...and PARENT you hooligans? I am on the verge of death, and you can’t even control yourselves.”
“Well he said you were as good as. . .” Zeke starts, but Morana interrupts.
“I know what he said,” she glares at me, and throws me against a wall with her starlight, knocking the air out of me, “but that doesn’t give you a free pass to kill people.” She throws Zeke against a wall too, but falls down, coughing.
Idalia rushes to her side. “Her powers are getting weaker the more the Glow Bow poison spreads,”
Zeke is still trying to get up. It was funny, even though Morana was younger than Zeke, he let her boss him around. Throw him around. He let her do whatever she wanted.
Morana tries to stand up, but her knees don’t let her. “I’m fine,” her voice shakes.
“No, you’re not,” Blaze says, taking the stand, “We need to go to the Night Palace and we need to go now.”
God, he didn’t need to be so dramatic.
“Well, I’m not going to that shit hole.” I purse my lips together.
“You have to,” Blaze says.
“I don’t want to die, OK? I barely know Morana, I’m not risking my life for her,”
Valentina steps up. “It’s not for her, it’s for the prophecy.”
“Okay how about this,” Idalia interjects, “I’ll stay and watch Morana, and all you guys can go to the palace.”
Great. My choices were either to go to the Night Palace and risk my life, or stay with the girl that kills me mentally and is on the verge of going insane.
Night Palace it is.
“Oh, HELL, to the no,” Zeke points at me. “I’m not going anywhere with that son of a bitch.” He talks as if I’m not standing right across from him.
“Then you stay,” I mumble.
He laughs, “Oh yeah, that’s smart, leave the most POWERFUL ONE at the house! Although I wouldn’t mind if you died.”
“HEY,” Idalia screams, “Aster stays, the rest of us go,”
She knows I won’t argue with her.
“Okay, so Morana needs to portal us to the palace, but after she does that she’ll be extremely weak. I made this drink to give to her, it will strengthen her afterward. Give it to her right after we’re gone,” Blaze hands me a shot of a red liquid.
Morana stands up, wobbly. “Take good care of her Aster, or I will blow your head off,” Zeke grins at me.
“Yes, please do, Aster.” Idalia smiles kindly.
“I will, only because Idalia asked me,” I roll my eyes at Zeke.
Morana has been concentrating the whole time, and already has the portal ready. “GO NOW! I-I can’t hold it for long.” her voice is raspy.
They all step in the portal. Idalia gives me a hug before going in. A blinding flash of light appears, then they’re gone.
Morana falls to the ground, coughing. She tries to stand up but she can’t. I kneel next to her and force the liquid down her throat. “Sorry, darling, but if you die, I’m gonna die too.”
I scoop her up and carry her upstairs, tucking her into her bed. I go back downstairs and sit on the couch, thinking and messing with my powers.
What had happened to me? Suddenly I cared about Idalia, and considered her my best friend? If I care about her, I’ll lose her and have to go through that miserable pain all over again. I kept telling myself to leave and not to believe this prophecy, but I couldn’t. Something connected immediately when Zeke and Morana got here. Maybe it was true, and we had to save the world or whatever. But I couldn’t let myself care. I’d only end up getting hurt in the end.
I get off the couch and go to the kitchen, looking in the cupboards for a snack. I find a bag of peanut M&Ms, potato chips, and I have to climb on a chair to get to the cupboard above the fridge, where Idalia keeps her vodka. It was weird, she never drank. She’s just so wholesome and innocent. She just kept it for her friends’ benefits. That made me feel a type of way. She was just so. . . kind.
Unlike me. Or at least, I tried to come off that way.
I grab a bottle of bourbon and carry my snacks and drinks to the couch. I’m pour myself a glass and turn the TV on to some stupid cartoons. What has my life become?
I’m so lost in thought that I don’t hear or see Morana come down the stairs. “Hey,” she says softly, snapping me out of my trance. “It’s boring all by myself. Can I. . .” she chokes out the question, “hang with you?”
I suppress my smile. “I guess so. Sure you’re not contagious?”
She’s trying to keep her smile hidden, too. “What are you doing?” She ignores my dumb question, her eyes flickering to the TV.
“Oh you know,” I hold up my glass of bourbon, “drinking my feelings away.”
She plops down next to me. “Mind if I join you?”
I look at her, and she still looks horrible. “I’m not sure if. . .”
“It’s fine,” she interrupts, “I’m dead anyway. And if Zeke tries to kill you, I won’t let him.”
“What happened to you hating me?” I ask, pouring myself another glass.
“Oh, I do. I just don’t want my last moments with you to be horrid. Might as well make the most of it,” she shrugs.
“It’s more fun hating each other,” I roll my eyes.
“Yeah I agree,” she laughs softly. “So what have you been thinking about?”
I tense up at the question. I couldn’t open up to her yet. I couldn’t tell her about my dead girlfriend and my dead best friend. She couldn’t know I was still broken from it. If I told her the Night Queen killed them, she would freak out about Zeke and her friends.
“I’m so sorry. . .” she whispers.
“What?” I ask.
“Your girlfriend, Katherine? I’m sorry,”
“What the hell?” I jump up, and she looks surprised. “I didn’t say anything about her! I didn’t want to tell you in the first place,”
“But I heard you! You. . .” she stands up.
“I wasn’t talking about anything! You’re hallucinating. All I did was think about that not-” Then it hits me. All I was doing was thinking. “Oh, hell no.”
“What? Aster, what?” she screams.
I start walking away. I don’t want to talk to her. But I’m suddenly thrown on the automen, and she’s on top of me. Her legs are on both sides of my body, her forearm is across my neck. “If you need to say something, say it. Why did you get so mad?”
She searches my eyes. “You read my freaking mind. You can read minds. That’s what your special thing is.”
She sits up, letting go of my neck. “What? No.”
“Yes,” I grunt, sitting up on my elbows, “I never said anything about Katherine, or Ayaz. You shouldn’t know that. I never wanted you to know. Then I’ll seem weak to you, and I’m not weak.”
“Oh, I would never joke about death, especially with you. You just seem so sad all the time, and cranky, and now I finally know. I mean, of course I’ll still hate you and try not to throw you off a cliff. But I’m just sorry I-”
“It’s fine. I’m over it.” I say, but I know she can read my mind. “Now would you mind getting off me so this doesn’t go a different direction?”
That makes her get off from on top of me faster than the flash. She rushes to the bathroom, and I can hear her puking. She comes back, choking and wiping her mouth. “Sorry, I just had to barf my guts out at the thought of what you just said,”
All I do is laugh and say, “I don’t blame you.”
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