They were running through the parking garage. Jerral still didn't quite believe what had just happened in his law firm. He couldn't believe what he had seen the woman running in front of him do in his law firm.
Jerral had been finishing up documents on a settlement when the brunette intern, he thought was named Christine, had burst into his office. He was about to ask what was wrong when screams came from the office space beyond his door.
Christine had come around his desk, grabbed his hand and said, "We have to go."
Jerral wanted to see what the commotion was about anyway and allowed her to pull him after her.
The office space full of cubicles, chaos reigned. People were running and shoving toward the exits. Someone even pushed a chair through
Jerral didn't press any more questions as he drove to his mom's house. When he pulled to the curb in front of the old rowhouse, Avani hopped out, walking quickly to the front door without waiting for Jerral. He jogged to catch up to her. She opened the door and he followed.
Shawna Vea Hollandsby is a small woman, topping out at five foot two inches and just over one hundred pounds. As Jerral walked in, he was reminded of teenagers lounging at the library as his mom sat with her feet folded up under her in the big burgundy arm chair. She was writing in one of her journals and didn't spare them a glance.
"Avani, I've been expecting you," she said looking up. Her smile faded though as she watched her son shut the front door. "But not under these circumstances."
Avani walked to the matching burgundy sofa and sat. "The daeva, when he smelled me, he kind of went crazy. I'm not sure what set him off but he decided that he was going to kill Jerral. I'm assuming it was impulse, not orders."
"I tried so hard to avoid this path," Shawna pinched the bridge of her nose.
Jerral's head was already beginning to hurt. He gave his mom a confused look. "Avoid this path. What do you mean? What in hell is going on, Mom?"
Shawna Vea looked up at her son. "The world is not as you have been taught to believe. We have abilities beyond what is conceived as normal."
"I would say reweaving your clothes while running through a parking garage in heels is a bit out of the ordinary, yeah." He shook his head. "So, what, she's a wizard? And what are you? A vampire?"
Avani rolled her eyes. "We're not wizards, Jerral. We are humans as we were originally made."
"Yes, all humans have an affinity for something. The outdoors, animals, empathy. Most have just forgotten how to fully access that affinity and turn it into an ability. Those of us who do know how to use it typically use it for good, to save lives."
"But there are those," Avani said pulling Jerral's gaze to hers, "that are consumed by the power and use it for selfish, evil things. The Daevas, the demons."
Jerral sank into the other chair by the door and looked at his mom. "You're telling me there are more people all over the world that can do things like she can do?" He pointed at Avani, then at his mom. "What can you do?"
Shawna started to reply when Avani cut in.
"It's written in her name. Shawna Vea, present seer. An old tradition to name your child after the power they present."
Jerral tilted his head. "Seer? Like a fortune teller?"
Shawna nodded. "Sort of, but I can see glimpses of the present, past and future. It's a type of mind ability, obviously, but it usually surfaces earlier than other abilities. The mind abilities are called nuhas."
Jerral blinked, only half understanding then looked at Avani. "What is your -"
"Power," Avani provided a little annoyed. "We are powers, we have power."
Jerral raised an eyebrow at her. "Powers? You couldn't come up with a better superhero name?"
Avani glared at him. "It is translated from a very old language. As for my power, I am a tahra. I can wield earth, water, fire and air. I also happen to have a smidge of hemming, shapeshifter, in me which allows me to change my appearance to an extent."
By the time Avani had stopped talking, Jerral was running his hands over his face and through his hair over and over. "Are there books I can read on this?" he asked through his hands.
Shawna let out a breath of relief assuming her son had accepted this new information. "Yes, Avani can show you how to find them in the study."
Jerral laughed. "Of course." He scooted to the edge of the chair. "I have a few more questions. First, why am I being hunted? Second, why is she the one playing secret agent? And last but not least, why in hell did you not tell me about any of this?"
"There has always been a war between us and the daevas. A while back they targeted me but I have proven to be a formidable foe. When their efforts turned from me, I went in search of them. They led me to you. At law school. That's when I contacted your mother."
Jerral looked to his mom. She worried at the hem of her shirt. "I can't tell you everything. What I can tell you is that the Creators, the beings that created the universe, will return. The daevas believe that certain people will be part of that return."
Jerral waited a beat for her to say more. But she didn't. "Am I a part of it?"
"That is for you to decide," Shawna said spreading her hands out in front of her.
"That's the same answer I got when I asked her the same question," Avani said.
Jerral rubbed his face then stood. "I'm going to get a beer." He stalked down the hall to the kitchen at the back of the house.
Shawna started to rise to follow him but Avani put a hand up to stop her.
"I'll go talk to him." She rose walked back to the kitchen.
There she found Jerral standing in front of the sink staring out the little window to the backyard. Avani leaned against the door frame. The old house creaked under her weight. Jerral looked over his shoulder at her. He scoffed and turned back to the window.
"You shouldn't be so hard on her , Jerral. She was just trying to protect you," Avani said. She pushed off the door and walked to the table.
Jerral looked down at the sink. He knew why his mom never told him but it stsill pissed him off. He turned around to face her, glad it was her and not his mom. "I don't know what you want me to say."
Avani took a seat and gestured for him to take the seat across from her. Jerral just stared at her for a minute. He hadn't take the time to really look at her until now. She made a picture with her wheat blonde hair that fell in curls to her shoulders and green eyes that seemed as calm as a meadow now compared to the storm they were when she used her power. Her nose was slightly crooked, he supposed from being broke at some point. Her mouth had a full bottom lip for pouting and a perfect cupid's bow on top. All settled in an oval face with high cheek bones. He continued to stare her, refusing to take a seat.
Avani tapped her fingers on the table. "Fine. Don't have a seat. But you will listen. It's not sucha bad thing taht she kept the world hidden from you."
He pointed at her with his beer bottle. "That's bullshit."
"I grew up knowing about how this world really is."
"And you look fine to me."
"Jerral," Avani said annoyed, "once you know and see the world for what it is, you can't un-see or un-know it. I have seen a man burned alive from fire that came from his wife's hands. I've seen a woman raped in an ally by a man that was only half human. And I knew how to defend myself and did several times before my thirteenth birthday. It's better growing up not knowing. Trust me."
Jerral felt sorrow and anger for the little girl with blonde curls growing up with such violence. Jerral pushed those thoughts aside though. She wouldn't appreciate him feeling sorry for her.
Instead he asked, "How old were you when you..." he searched for the wording, "obtained your power?"
Jerral pushed off the counter and meandered to the table. "If I had known, maybe I would have my power by now. Maybe-"
"We would never have met. There are a million situations that could have happened, Jerral. This is the one we ended up on. This is the one we get to take."
Jerral took a sip of his beer and stared out the doorway toward the living room. Finally, he took a seat and looked at Avani. "So, we're being targeted for possibly being the end of evil?" Avani nodded. "What do we do about it?"
"Well," Avani moved her hands under the table, "we hide for one. Until you gain your power the number one priority is staying alive. While we hide, we train. I can teach you on weapons and hand to hand combat. You can read and learn about the powers and world."
Jerral finished his beer. "Who is targeting us? Do you know?"
Avani looked up and met his gaze. "Yes. It's my cousin, Samael. He is possibly the most powerful daeva in the world."
She never broke his gaze. He suddenly wished he had more beer. "He's your cousin."
"From my father's side, yes. We share a last name and he is also a tahra but he mostly uses fire. It is believed that since our fathers were twins that we are each other's counter. In other words people believe I am the only one that can stop him."
Jerral began to peel the label off his bottle. "So I gain my power I help you stop your cousin?"
Avani leaned forward on the table. "It's a bit more complicated than that. Not only is he going after us, he seems ot be assembling an army. Or at least that's what it looks like. No one has ever been able to get a big enough group of daevas together, they tend to start killing each other off before any real attack can happen. But Samael has somehow figured out a way to get them to work together. They have camps all over and have even attacked lux communities."
"Lux?" Jerral asked confused by the new term.
Avani stopped and looked up at Jerral. She blinked. "Lux is what we call the good ones. Daeva translates to demon. Lux translates to light."
Jerral nodded. "So, he's building an army. He wants war. Why?"
Avani shrugged. "He's evil, he doesn't really have to have any other reason than he wants to kill all the good. I do think it is a little bit bigger than taht. Samael is much smarter than those that came before him. It's not simply that he wants to kill all the good, he wants to rule."
Jerral sighed. "We have a crazy evil, fire wielding guy that wants to kill all the super heroes and rule the world." He made a face and nodded. "Sounds normal. What do you plan to do about it?"
Avani looked out the glass back door to the yard. "I've been waiting for the Council to step in. I've only been countering his attakcs here and there or completely disrupting them when I can. However, it's obvious that I'm going to have to do more."
Avani looked back at him. "I'm going to raise my own army."
Jerral held her gaze for a moment then stood and walked to the trash can to toss his bottle in. He stood with his back to Avani letting his mind process all the information. Demons, powers, destinies. It was a lot for a Tuesday night. When he turned back to face her and ask more questions she was looking out the door again.
She looked wistful, like she would rather be out there than in the house. He was struck again with how pretty she was. She had been attractive as a brunette but as a blonde she was angelic. Jerral forgot all about the war and enemies they had at that moment. But he remember something else from the garage.
"Do you want to stay for dinner?" he asked.
Avani turned, her eyes looked far away as she answered politely, "I don't want to impose on your mother. If you've had enough for tonight, I can come back tomorrow and we talked more then."
In truth he had had enough when he had walked out of the living room but he couldn't help talking to her. "Shouldn't we stick together now? They know I know now. Doesn't that make it more dangerous for you on your own?"
Avani smirked. She wasn't sure what had come over him but it was sweet. "Now you're asking me to stay the night?"
Jerral blinked then shrugged. He leaned against the fridge and tried to keep it light. He wasn't sure what had gotten into him. "I was going to ask you to dinner before you pulled the magic trick in the garage. Dinner might have led to staying." He met her gaze with that. Her eyes danced with mischief and it made his heart pound.
Finally she chuckled. "That's a lot of confidence. I like that. I'll stay. In the guest room. To help ease your mind. Plus we can start earlier that way."
Jerral smiled. "Thanks. I wouldn't have slept a wink knowing you were out there alone somewhere." Avani laughed. Jerral pushed off the fridge. "I'll have Mom show you the guest room and you can sweet talk her into cooking one of her famous recipes. I have a few phone calls to make about the firm. I need to find out what's happening there."
Avani nodded with a small smile and returned to looking out the back door. Jerral stopped in the doorway to the kitchen and looked back at her. She looked a little sad despite the triumphs of today. He started to ask her what was wrong then shook his head. He didn't need to worry about her, she had been a part of this her whole life. He had more important things to think about. Like the fact that he apparently had a war to prepare for.