Ashes Magic

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It was a rainy Monday. Kate woke up from hearing the strong winds and the heavy drops that struck the glass on her window. She had slept well and didn’t have any nightmares. The previous day had been too embarrassing. She did not want to repeat the dose even though she alerted Julio that her dreams were constant. She got up and went to have breakfast. To her delight, the kitchen was deserted. She was not thrilled to have a conversation about Jake again. She was already nervous enough with the inevitable possibility of bumping into him in university.

Julio’s congregation was only a few blocks away from the university. She grabbed an umbrella and hurried her steps to arrive early so it would be less likely that she bumped into some angry Guardian. Tiago warned her that they had not been very happy about her escape. Kate actually didn’t care about their opinion. She just wanted to distance herself. Although they have saved her life, they did not show much empathy for her, especially the redhead. Considering her schizophrenic behavior, she had proven to be jealous regarding Jake. In the covered courtyard of the university, several college kids and some dating couples laughed and chatted in small groups. Kate felt envious as she never managed to fit in and make great friends. Her only true friends were her parents, and now she didn’t have them anymore. She avoided the sad thoughts of her loss and went quickly towards the classroom. While walking down the hall, she felt a sharp tug on her arm. Before she could pronounce any word in protest, the redhead dragged her near the restrooms.

“What is your problem? Leave me alone, girl!” Kate shouted, getting rid of Olivia.

“My only problem is you! You acted like a spoiled little child!” Olivia gave a finger in her face. “You were blaming us for what happened? Some congregations think it was an act of negligence and that it is our fault for not having prevented the attack. Do you want to know what I think? You’re to blame!” Olivia accused the girl without any pity. “What have you been doing to cause this wrath of the creatures of darkness?”

“Me? I didn’t do anything. Who knows? They’re right and it is your fault! The Guardian here is you. Your duty was to prevent the attack.” Pushing Olivia’s finger to the side, she added, “Just to make it clear, where I go is my problem!”

Olivia stared at the girl with an overwhelming hatred. Kate was afraid and thought the Guardian would kill her just by looking at her. Overcome with rage, the redhead raised her hand to slap the face of the girl but was stopped as she was pushed away. Jake had arrived on time, avoiding that Kate was assaulted. “Are you okay?” he asked, stricken.

“Do not mind me, I’m fine. Keep that girl away from me and leave me alone. I’m sorry for what happened that night and I’m not blaming anyone. I just don’t want to talk about it, at least for now. The memories still hurt inside me. They are painful and difficult to overcome,” she blurted as she let a tear escape.

Jake could not resist the conflicting emotions that lingered within him. “Kate, I’m so sorry! I swear to you that if I could have done something to prevent this disaster and saved your parents ... Look at me ...” He held her face in his hands. “I want you to know that I ...” Hesitantly, he turned to hug her and Kate did not complain. He seized the moment and lowered his head to nuzzle her neck. When he smelled her perfume and felt the softness of her skin, he realized how homesick she felt. However, the time was short.

Then, she was ripped from his arms by a strong pull that darted across the hallway. Stunned, he looked around to identify who the supposed corpse was. He was about to commit murder in the first degree in front of the entire university.

“You’re a good and cheeky bastard, huh Jake? How can you still take advantage of this innocent girl after everything that happened? You will not even respect her grief!” Tiago accused him in an infamous manner.

“What will I do with you? You insist on crossing my path! Are you suicidal or think you’re immortal?” Jake straightened his body and his shirt. “Come on now, so I can show you that immortality does not exist,” he said, approaching the boy. He added with a pointed look, “I want you to be fully aware of one fact. If you even dream of laying a finger on her, I swear I’ll kill your race.”

At this point, many curious students formed a circle around the Guardians in anticipation of watching the show. Olivia watched intently and fantasized about the possibility of seeing Jake take a good blow. Kate was scared. She did not want them to quarrel and felt hurt even more because the fight was about her.

Lana appeared and joined the curious crowd. She was willing to see how far Jake would go for the girl. She was surprised to notice that Sam was allied to Tiago in an attempt to corner the Guardian. However, Jake was not intimidated. After taking a punch, he was thrown against a metal door, causing the biggest bang. With blood running down his nose, he rose quickly to retaliate. The cries of curious onlookers exploded outside the hall. Tiago ran up to the boy with a closed fist while Samuel came from behind and held Jake. Tiago took the opportunity to punch him while Jake tried to get rid of Samuel. Seeing the cowardice of the two, Lana ran towards Jake to stop that stupid fight. She was interrupted by Olivia. “What do you think you’re doing? Leave me, girl!” Lana said. She loved him and would never allow anyone to hurt him.

“Do not join this mess. He deserves a good lesson!” Olivia said with a vengeful gleam in her eye.

When she saw that Jake was being cornered, Kate began to sweat and her heart beat wildly. She went to the Guardians noting that the two were arguing and asked angrily, “Aren’t you doing anything to separate them?” Kate looked at them with great anticipation. Both continued with the discussion, and did not even notice her presence. “You know what? Never mind ...” Kate said. Kate ran up to Tiago and gave him a strong punch that knocked the guy out. It was an accurate and precise kick, making him fly away and fall to the ground. Everyone was fascinated by the girl. Soon she panicked, realizing what she had just done. Kate bit her lip hard and looked around. Everyone was surprised including teacher Mark who still stood motionless, wondering how a harmless girl like her could have knocked out a strong, tall guy with one shot. Certainly, this would be an anomaly to her list of oddities. Before she gathered her stuff to leave, she looked at the bullies who still stared amazed at her. Tiago remained dizzy and was helped up by Sam.

“Do not come after me!” She pointed to the Guardians. “It fits all three.” After that, she walked out of the university.

Mark predicted that Jake started it and pulled him by the sleeve. “Do not even think about it, Mister! The day hasn’t even started and you have caused all these problems!” the conductor said, shaking his head in a gesture of disapproval.

“Mark, gee! It was not me who started the fight!” he protested, wiping the blood from his mouth.

“But you accepted the provocation!” Mark yelled.

“You would have wanted me to do that,” Jake remained indignant. “It does not matter!” Mark was very angry and did not know what to do with Jake. He was seriously considering asking for transfer and a change of country soon. “Come on, get your things and go home.” Before leaving, Jake threw an accusing look at the other Guardians. “I will have a very serious talk with Julio. He will not get away with this. You will also be punished.”

Angry and surprised, this was what Jake felt as he departed for home. Tiago was upset by having meddled in a matter that did not concern him. That coward was never brave enough to face him alone, accepting the help and support of Samuel. Why did the retarded Sam have to meddle, too? Would he be another candidate to take a beating? His list of opponents was growing and he would have to do something about it. At the very moment Samuel would be found prowling around, he would make sure to take some action. The surprise was due to the outbreak ofKate the Ninja” at school. “My goodness! What was that?” he exclaimed in awe, looking at himself in the bathroom mirror. The girl almost broke the boy’s chin in a decent masterstroke. She did so with a single purpose, to defend him. Thinking about it that way, it was not so bad to take a few blows. Jake could not help but smile.

He washed his face as his mouth was bleeding a bit. He noticed that a purple bruise was beginning to emerge due to the punch he received earlier. Tasting blood, he rinsed his mouth several times, trying to get rid of the metallic taste. Then, he went to the kitchen to get a glass of juice. Mark was sitting on a stool, with one hand holding his head and the other struck his fingers on the counter, showing the greatest impatience. Jake glanced at the conductor and said in an inquiring way, “Aren’t you starting the sermon? Jake do this ... don’t do that!”

“Stop being rude and unfair! All the advice I give you is solely for your own good. In fact, all I do is think of your welfare! Do you have questions about it?” Mark said harshly.

“I know, Mark! But you won’t take her away from me!” Jake shouted.

The conductor realized that Jake already demonstrated intolerance through his typical gesture of passing his hand in his hair. Exhausted, he spoke adversely, “I’m not! What scares me is that we do not know anything about this girl or the merits of it. When I see you plunging deeply, surrendering without hesitation, I really worry about the consequences in all this that can take you down,” said the regent honestly. He was very concerned with respect to Jake’s unusual and reckless behavior. The Guardians quarrel and act that way but it was not allowed. It was considered as a heinous and unacceptable attitude.

“I have to know where you’re going with this story. You can talk, I can take it ...” Jake walked to the regent with his hands in his pockets. You think it will all end up just like Barbara’s case? Do not worry, I know what I’m doing. I can perfectly take care of my life and make my own decisions,” he said in his own defense. The conductor argued in surrender.

“It is right and I understand your point of view. Just be reminded that when it involves love, neither Guardian is indeed consistent.” Mark nudged his arm. “Do not pretend it’s not happening to you!”

Jake sat facing him and said, “Just answer me one thing ... What makes you think that I cannot love again? You think I’m not able to overcome another loss?”

“We both know how hard it was the last time. I’m just trying to warn you,” Mark said.

“Okay, Mark. I’ll respect your opinion but I’ll just tell you one time ...” Jake said as he stood up and headed towards the door, “Do not keep me from going after her. This is not a request.”

To her surprise, Kate found Julio waiting for her at the door. Probably the Guardians warned him and told him of the confusion she had gotten herself into. He was sitting on the porch and when she approached, he said smiling, “Hello, ninja girl. I see that your Monday morning started well stirred. Have you got something to say?”

“Good day to you too, Julio! Before you get all suspicious there, scratching your beard, I will just tell you that I have no idea how I did it, the kick. I can only say that when I saw your two Guardians cowardly beating Jake, I knew I had to do something to make them stop,” she explained, recalling the harrowing and exceptional feeling she felt when he was cornered.

“Do not worry, my dear. I’m not judging you for what you did. To be honest, I actually liked the lesson that you gave Tiago. The boy was in need of a stiff.” He continued to scratch his beard. “What I don’t understand is how a passive girl like you goes around distributing kicks. From what I heard, it was a martial arts kick. This means that anyone using that kick would have had some kind of training. I believe you have not been trained, or am I mistaken?” Julio asked.

“You’re right, it was a very unusual gesture. I just want to be clear. I have never attacked anyone before. I have never hit another person. This should answer your question,” Kate said.

“I believe you. It also contributes directly to the fact that you really are special,” Julio continued, “I promise we will do everything possible to help you. Do not be scared. It might not be a big deal and you acted on impulse seeing Jake was in danger. You must have awakened some feeling or memory in your subconscious. It’s just a guess, no need to jump to conclusions.”

Kate replied, “Thanks for your help and for being understanding, Julio, I owe you.”

“It’s okay, dear. Let’s go. I’ll prepare something appetizing to eat,” he said as he took her hand and led her into the house.

That afternoon, Kate took the opportunity to take a nap. The episode that happened earlier would not escape her thoughts. The feeling to see Jake being assaulted had awakened her, resulting in a reaction which reached Tiago so fast that when she realized it, the boy was already on the ground. Thank goodness she did not return after the Guardians reached the congregation until early afternoon. Only she and Julio were at home. After getting up, she went to take a bath. She decided to take a walk and see what movie was playing in the theaters. She needed to clear her mind as the last few days had been tragic and thrilling. She decided to change her appearance to disguise the damage that the incident had caused her. She put dark circles under her eyes to look like a panda bear. She used a bit of concealer and passed an eyeliner to highlight her eyes. With these basic procedures, she managed to solve the problem. She wore skinny jeans and a black tank top handle. She chose high boots due to the cold and rainy weather.

Before opening the bedroom door, she heard some laughter coming from the room. She froze to imagine facing the Guardians who would be furious at her. Although she was a bit afraid, she did not allow herself to take refuge in her room. Grabbing her purse and jacket, she left for the inevitable confrontation that awaited her. The room looked more like a circus where the clowns were Tiago and Sam.

“Wow! I would give my entire collection of Pink Floyd albums just to have seen Tiago receiving the biggest kick in the middle of his face from Kate. As of today, she has my full support and respect. She’s practically my idol,” said Joan, the red-haired girl.

“Tell me about it, Joan! I’m now regretting for not having heard my intuition and followed these assholes until university. When I woke up this morning and heard the foolproof plan that Tiago had discussed with Sam, I just figured that the whole thing would end quickly!” Annabel concluded with a knowing smile.

“Hey! We’re listening, you know? Just to make it clear, I gave the biggest punch to Jake. I suppose our plan did not roll out as anticipated,” screamed Tiago from across the room. He and Samuel were playing video games.

“Sure, you could land a punch on him. Your partner Samuel was holding him. It was easy! What you both did was the greatest cowardice.” Joan shook her head in disapproval and continued, “By the way, you have to order a casket and prepare your funeral because when Jake sees you walking around ... Out of respect for you, I will not complete the sentence.”

The girls laughed shamelessly at the two. When Kate entered the room, the Guardians hit a round of applause, greeted the girl, and said, “Welcome to the brotherhood!”

“Enough of all this bullshit! You two have nothing better to do than to stay in this roasting? That’s why you cannot find a boyfriend! For the love of God, who will put up with two retarded girls like you?” Now, Samuel seemed furious.

“Time! Sam, you should wonder why you’re talking like that! It seems that there is a line outside with beautiful and intelligent girls waiting for you with a password in hand,” Annabel said, restraining herself and laughed again. She continued, “Oh, sorry! I had forgotten that there is an unfortunate girl who insists on seeing you. Let me remember her name ... Ah, Lana. Poor girl, when she finds out that you have only two neurons, she will return you to Orpheus alleging a manufacturing defect.”

The Guardian continued to make jokes about the boys. All they wanted was to cause trouble, and now, Kate had given them a tray, a reason to laugh at for the next two decades.

Tiago put down the video game control. The Guardian approached and ranted at Kate, “You are amused by all this, aren’t you? You’re laughing like fools! I really do not see anything funny. I’m immensely disappointed in you, Kate.” He pointed a finger towards her. “What I did today was to protect you and what did I get in return? This is how you thank me? Attacking me?”

Kate felt an immense discomfort when she heard him say that. That cocky boy! She stared at the Guardian and warned, “Funny Tiago, I do not remember asking for your help, much less to protect me. Was that not what we talked about yesterday? I told you I would let you know when I needed you.”

Tiago said, “Of course he will use this dirty game to try to gain your trust again. You thought I did not notice the behavior of you two, and the biggest climate that was going on between you at the party?”

That cheeky boy! Kate was angry and blushed because of his bold comment in front of everyone.

“How do you explain that blow you gave me? Are you some kind of ninja girl?” He threw an accusing look at her. Kate did not answer, so he continued, “Let me guess. You’ve also fallen for him and joined the club of imbeciles?”

“What I do or who I decide to like is nobody’s business!” she said angrily to the Guardian.

Julio stormed inside the room and went straight to Tiago, caught him by the ear and screamed, “I’m losing all my patience with you! No more pestering the girl’s life. She’s hasn’t been here for forty- eight hours and you’re practically imposing on her what she should or should not do. Leave her alone!”

After the scolding, they heard a loud knock on the front door. They all looked at each other surprised, as they rarely received visits beyond the pizza delivery man. Julio motioned for everyone to remain quiet and went to see who the supposed visitor was. Upon opening the door, he was not surprised to see Jake. Mark had warned Julio before that the boy would go after the girl. He asked Julio to be peaceful and tolerant and allow the Guardian to talk to her.

“Very good! There’s no need to ask for the reason you’re knocking at my door. I believe you came for the girl.” Julio scratched his beard suspiciously. “If it’s for another reason like scalping my Guardians, I must warn you that I cannot afford to lose any of them,” added the ruler. “I assure you that they will be punished for what they did.”

“I have not come knocking for those cowards. I’ll leave that for another time. Today, I’ve come for Kate,” Jake answered.

“Yes, but first I need to make sure that ...” He was pulled to the side and Jake pushed the door, entering uninvited. In seeing Jake enter the room, everyone shuddered.

Kate gasped. Tiago and Samuel were white. The two Guardians burst into laughter. Joan spoke first. “Unfortunately, we have no time to plan a funeral,” said the Guardian, pointing to Tiago. “He came too fast, I suggest to you my dear, a quick cremation.”

“Good idea! I’ll call for an appointment and book an oven!” Annabel mocked.

Tiago looked terrified at the girls, and mustering his might, he faced the Guardian. He said, “Listen, pal. If you came here because of ...”

Jake motioned him to be quiet. “Do not meddle, you coward! I did not come for you.” He shook his hands in front of his face, making fun of Tiago. “Do not be shocked. You are not my priority at the moment.”

“Let me guess ... you came to thank Kate for saving your skin in college today?” Samuel asked, crossing his arms, trying to intimidate him.

Jake shot him a sly look and said, “You’d better stay out of it Sam, if you don’t want to die so young ...” He looked at him scornfully and said, “I did not come here to talk to Kate. I came here to take her with me.”

After he revealed his intentions, the Guardians began to talk all at the same time arguing about where and with whom, the girl should stay. Annabel and Joan missed it as they had just popped a bag of popcorn to accompany the drama. Kate listened to everything and felt numb. “Hey? I’m right here! Instead of deciding for me what I should do, why not ask me?”

Jake approached her, looked at her tenderly and murmured, “Please, gorgeous ... Come with me. I cannot bear that you’re staying here. You should have not a minute more with these fools.”

She was embarrassed by his proximity. She nervously tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and looking at the floor, she said, “I’m sorry, but I need to stay here. It’s nothing personal. Julio has promised to help me figure out what’s wrong with me. I really trust him.”

Jake took her hands with a sinking heart. He really needed to convince her that her place was beside him. He said, “I can also help you, I’ve lived a long time here on Earth and I know where I can get information.” Taking her hand to his lips, he pressed a kiss and went, “Actually, I’ve made my initiative and I’m chasing it. I will find the demon who is trying to kill you.” He caught her chin and lifted it so that she could look into his eyes. “Kate, I promise I’ll take care of you.”

“You will help her as you did the last time? Leaving her parents to be murdered? Or will you just invite her for a date? Maybe this time, you can get a kiss from her. Oh, I know ...” Tiago could not finish the sentence as Jake took his shirt and threw him towards a cabinet filled with crystals, toppling him to the ground.

Julio, who watched it all in silence, spoke out against the violent action of the Guardian. “What did I say before about hitting my boys? Jake, you cannot just go on entering my house and assault a Guardian!” Julio stopped in front him and pointed to the cabinet, whimpering. “Look at what you did! My French crystals! Mark will pay me for this!” Still heartbroken, he added, “I have to put up with all of this because you, my young Guardians, must be ever so impatient and moody. Why can’t you just settle down and discuss these hormones only with words, reaching a consensus civilly?”

“Julio, do not give me that whining now ... If you teach your Guardians to behave decently and teach them a little more education, my rude and inconsiderate attitude would have been unnecessary.” Jake turned quietly and took the girl by the hand. Somehow, he had allowed her to continue living in that congregation.

“Do you know where I found your girl? She was asleep on a bench in the dead of night. Agree with me and let her stay here,” Tiago argued, as he stood up with the help of Sam and cleaned up the shards from his clothes.

Jake was quiet and did not respond to the provocation. Even Tiago was right. He had arrived late on both occasions ... While her parents were being killed, and when he left to search for her. He looked towards Kate, feeling guilty. She also remained silent and bowed her head. The other Guardians were awaiting the outcome of the story. Joan came to think that she would even give the film the title, “There’s Something About Kate.”

Julio broke the silence and said, “Kate, my dear, any decision you make will be all right. If you decide to stay with us, I will keep my promise to help you. If you choose to go with Jake, you will no longer be my responsibility. Only a congregation may be in charge of your case. It’s not me who decides. That is part of the rules.” The conductor noticed her indecision, and added, “Why don’t you take Jake to your room so you can talk in private? It is probable that you have unfinished business to discuss.” Julio threw a wink to the girl and motioned for them to leave.

Kate nodded, motioning with her hand for Jake to follow her to her room. She would need to solve this issue soon, despite knowing the choice she would take next.

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