Winter cradled her arms across her chest. Tanner seemed to hesitate while he watched her, she struggled with conveying the words she needed to say.
“I really should tell you.” She whispered to herself a few times and sighed loudly before directly meeting his eyes.
“My family isn’t what they seem.” She said softly and picked at a few loose pieces of confetti on the table top. The dance was a distant memory as she remembered her past.
“My mother had a lot of strange friends that I can remember as a child. They could do things I’ve never seen people do before.”
Tanner watched her closely and she placed her hand on top of his.
“Please don’t think I’m crazy.”
“Honestly, if I thought that I wouldn’t be sitting here right now.” He confessed and they gently laughed.
“I have something important.” She whispered and pulled off her ring slowly. “Something I wasn’t supposed to show to anyone.” She paused and pressed her lips against the ring. It glittered a gentle yellow color and the gemstone slid off into her hand. She eyed it carefully. Tanner reached out with his fingertips and grazed it.
“But this is a half?” He whispered. Winter raised her eyebrow in confusion. “Do you know if it?” He shook his head and placed it back into her palm.
“I just figured something like that would be round.”
She shrugged her shoulders. “Someone brought this to me when I was very small. He said it would protect me from misfortune. . .which it did. But no one else was protected- which brought me just as much harm.”
She rocked backwards in her chair and let her back rest against the wood. “The other half is missing and I haven’t had an idea where it was.”
She sighed and rubbed her forehead. “It’s supposed to be an object of immense good fortune but it’s obviously broken. . .for some reason I think if I find the other piece it might bring my family back. . but obviously that wouldn’t happen.”
She stared blankly at the wall.
“Nothing could ever bring them back.”
Tanner pursed his lips and rested his hand against her back.
“I have something to tell you as well. . .” she glanced toward him slowly and he swallowed hard.
Irena shakily stood up on her feet. She growled and dug her nails into the bedroom wood as she stood straight. She drug her hands across the wall and narrowed her eyes.
A lone Forgotten stood waiting her command and she glared to him.
“This is the last Aion will reject me. THE LAST.” She screamed and stormed down the steps.
“He embarrasses me and takes his leave as though I am nothing!” She clenched at her hair and bit her lip before sitting down upon the step in misery.
Her mascara clung to her skin and she brushed away any loose tears.
“I will take that crystal and destroy him.” She hissed and touched her fingers against the Forgotten who disappeared. She stepped closer to the beam of light that drifted down the stairwell and grabbed a hold of it. Her body twisted before disappearing into the light without a trace. She appeared upon the streets of Illinois before the college. Her hair danced in the wind as a passerby nearly ran into her. She placed her hand upon his shoulder and immediately the stranger collapsed to the ground.
“Hey are you okay?” Another stranger met his side and looked up to the woman.
“What did you do to him?” He asked in horror as she placed her hand to his forehead.
“Nothing you won’t have.” She laughed.
“What if. . .I was someone different as well.” She backed up from his touch for a moment.
“Someone like the man who brought me this stone?” She whispered and then shook her head.
“Now you’re just messing with me.” Tanner frowned and folded his hands in his lap.
“Are you serious?” Winter mouthed and looked away.
“Then I suppose you can see it too?” She glanced to him. “See what?” Tanner asked and knitted his brow.
“You can see the piece in my heart.” He reluctantly nodded his head and she smirked. “I kinda knew it you know.” She turned her head. “Stuff like this always happens to me.”
“I doubt it.” Tanner laughed and grabbed her hand in a tight embrace. “I. . .might not be the guy you’ve always been looking for.” Tanner bit his lip and looked over his shoulder.
“I’ve done some bad things. . .and to be honest with you I feel as though things have changed. Like, with you I feel as though I can be anything and I don’t have to pretend.” His whispered quietly and rubbed his thumb against her wrist.
“I don’t have to be the bad guy.”
“I doubt you’re the bad guy.” Winter laughed and they stood up from the table. Tanner went to pull the door open but he suddenly froze.
“Winter get down!” He shouted and she jumped behind a table quickly in confusion. The door was blasted off it’s hinges and slammed into the wall.
Irena stood in the doorway, glittering green light encompassed her figure and she growled at Tanner.
“I’m tired of waiting!” She hissed at him and approached Winter slowly who cowered in fear.
“I’ll rip her heart from her chest!” Tanner stood in front of her and spoke in a hushed tone.
“Irena, Irena, calm yourself I almost have the crystal.” He whispered and grabbed her by the shoulder. She shrugged off his touch.
“Aion is on his way!” She hissed and pushed him aside. Winter fell backwards onto the ground and stared up at the woman in fear.
“There is no more time!”
“Don’t hurt her!” Tanner pushed Irena from Winter’s side.
Irena stared at him in amusement. “Have you fallen for this girl?” She laughed and pointed to her. “This human?? This human has seduced another Caster?” She laughed and reached down to pull Winter by her hair. She yelped and clutched at her head.
“I’m serious Irena. . .let her go!” Tanner reasoned. “T-Tanner, what is all this?” Winter whimpered as Irena dropped her back onto the floor.
“oh. . you mean your lover told you?” She knelt down into Winter’s face with a hiss. Winter jerked her head away at the sour stench of roses and blood. “We’ve been after you this whole time together.”
She rounded on Winter. “I’ll be taking that crystal from you, dead or alive.” She went to grab at the girl again but a spark of magic prevented her path.
Irena glanced toward him in anger. “Asmodian. . .what are you doing?”
He puffed out his chest and let his magic drip over him. His hair turned color and his green magic spiraled into his hands.
“Protecting Winter. ” He whispered and hurtled several beams of light into Irena’s direction. She blocked each once before locking into combat with Asmodian. Winter crawled away behind a nearby corner watching the battle of light. Purple and green magic illuminated the hallway sending debris every which way as the powerful forces collided.
Irena sent a finishing blow to Asmodian’s jaw which sent him hurdling across the floor. He slammed against several lockers before landing on the ground with a groan.
He picked his body up from the cement and spit before smiling toward her.
“Is that all you’ve got bitch?” He shouted as she attacked him again and he elbowed her in the stomach with a spin of light. Snakes of light ensnared her ankles and attempted to trip her but she spun from his grasp. Winter cowered as Irena’s kick broke through the bubbler and sent it scrattering across the floor. She ducked for cover and Asmodian was struck down again to the ground.
“You’ll never win! I own you.” She hissed, her eyes were narrowed into slits as she grasped him by the throat. She made eye contact with the girl as Asmodian wheezed for breath and dropped lifelessly to the floor.
“Girl.” She motioned with her hand. “The crystal or I’ll kill him.”
She whimpered and offered the small piece of rock from her ring. Irena laughed and glanced at it. “You must think I’m stupid that this is it?” She yanked Winter by her arm again in front of Asmodian. His eyes were half lidded as he gasped for air and reached out his hands toward Winter protectively.
Irena’s magic kept him pinned to the floor and he clutched at his neck. “Sweetie. . .take out the rock for me.” Asmodian growled against his restraints and refused to answer. Irena scowled. “Do it or I’ll pull it from her chest!”
The restraint slipped from his neck and he gasped several deep breaths. Before shakily raising his hand to Winter’s chest and placing it upon her collarbone.
“Sorry. . .love.” He whispered and his magic entered into her chest, it encapsulated her heart and extracted the stone.” Tears dripped down her face as the stone was removed and she wailed in agony at her loss. A sudden feeling of despair replaced her being and she collapsed to her knees in tears. The stone hovered in front of Asmodian before clacking to the ground.
“That wasn’t so hard. . .was it?” She laughed and picked up the pieces to slide them together. The rock glittered and morphed into a beautiful crystal that shone in her pale hands.
She turned her body away from them. And the click of her heels sounded down the hallway.
Winter laid her head across Tanner’s chest as he breathed shallowly. Clear blood eased out from his head wounds but soon began to heal. Winter watched him and observed his features. He mirrored her gaze with half-lidded eyes.
"I am. . h-hideous." He uttered and closed his eyes to rest his head back on the stone. He groaned in pain and and clutched his ribs.
"Not at all." Winter sniffed. She clutched at her heart and felt as though it was missing a strong pain clung in her chest.
"Thanks for protecting me." She gently ran her fingers through his discolored hair and he smiled.
"I love you Winter." He uttered before he passed out. A handful of students passed by Winter in awe, she informed them she was calling the police. Asmodian's form transitioned back into his human state and when the police arrived- Winter told them of the assailant.
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