I blew a silent raspberry as I tapped my fingers.
Zac didn’t need to sleep cause he’d already slept for a big fat 9 hours. I, on the other hand, was closing in on 24 hours awake, and before that I’d gotten 20min naps here and there, but nothing more.
Zac had sent me to sleep and said he was going to go take a walk and get a gander at where we were – also probably subtext for ‘going to brood and think on his own’. Oscar, the traitor, had agreed sleep was good for your mental health or something and gone to plug himself in the wall. Nato as well, down with the lot, had settled at Oscar’s feet and fallen sleep.
To my credit, I did try. But I needed to move. I couldn’t stay still.
Three days is a long time.
Twenty minutes even longer.
Ah screw this, I technically took a nap when we were waiting for the cops. I’ve slept more than enough.
Plus, I’m getting tired of closing my eyes only to see Salandra explode again. Once was AMPLE, thanks.
I glanced at my watch to check the time – only to look at my wrist cast. I keep forgetting I had to take my watch off for that. Bah either way, it looks like the sun is starting to come up. I could go for a jog.
I momentarily considered taking my katanas with me. I don’t know, something about getting used to it? But jogging with those clicking on my side and back wasn’t going to be comfortable. Plus one of my katanas was a little dull. The one I’d used when we’d gone after James. It had gotten scrapped against the van here and there and katanas are surprisingly fragile. I was going to ask Masak’s mom to fix them, but she wasn’t at the Dragon’s when I stopped by today.
So basically, no, I left them at the warehouse.
Ah taking a jog is going to feel good! Some morning fresh air and blood pumping in my muscles!
The Dragons had agreed to let me help on the rescue mission for James, but since I was injured – referring to my fractured wrist that is – they didn’t want me actually physically involved. In fact, whether I was injured or not, they wouldn’t have wanted me there. It wasn’t something for us kids. Arahelel, Bianca and Tristan were also not going to be participating.
I managed to convince them to let me do recon. I told them I could check and see how many guards there were and where they were, or really anything else they needed to know about the layout. Annie had welcomed my help and I couldn’t wait.
But it was in 3 days. What was I supposed to do till then? Play hopscotch? While I knew James was being held in the same place Salandra had disappeared to?
I’d been told by quite a handful of people – well of the ones who hadn’t died – that I should lay low. The coup wasn’t the only thing happening in 3 days, no actually, the reason they were planning it on that day was because it coincided with the big meet up. Everyone important was going to unite and talk about the fate of supernaturals. People had already voiced their plans to pass a law on banning magic, which I find horribly ironic. Not using magic is what got Xavier in trouble with his powers before. Banning magic wasn’t going to help anything. It was a fearful response. Per usual.
I slowed my pace as I realized I’d sped up as my frustration rose.
Getting angry about things I couldn’t control wasn’t going to lead me anywhere.
…do I really have no control?
A lot of people have had the power to help and to change things. Annaliese and Traz were one of the few who actually actively tried to do something. And Jesse’s parents have, they’ve made an impact. Annaliese was a witch and could heal, granted, but Traz’s power was only in his eyes. He could only identify someone and he still managed to help.
I’m a witch who has a special astral ability. Among a lot of other things. I’m already more capable than most.
And in the end, there’s nothing that we can really control, but that never means there’s nothing we can do.
I felt a tentative knock through astral.
“You also can’t sleep?” I called out, and Ashlynn appeared floating and in her pyjamas, like that night we’d seen each other in Sebastien’s place.
For some reason, my brain seemed intent on registering the watch on her wrist and I wondered again where I’d put mine. I might’ve left it at the Dragon’s…
“It’s not the night for it apparently.” She said with a small shrug. She leaned forwards. “If you’re out of the hospital, that means your grandpa made it right?”
“Funny story, he actually got kidnapped.” I said, not slowing down.
“What?” She followed easily.
“Yeah, it’s kind of a shocking affair. But James is a pretty big deal, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised?” I explained, feeling my breath growing short.
“Do you know who?”
“Yes as it happens, the Hans.” I snorted. I find it ironic, since I spent a lot of my childhood admiring them. I even wondered if I could ever work for them one day. They are the leading pillars in science and technology. Everything cool that would get invented would be thanks to them.
“Yeah, you’re in Cloverfield, isn’t that where one of those big labs are?”
“Kidnapping?” She frowned.
“It’s pretty fucked up, considering they’re a pretty important figure head in politics and world decisions.” I nodded, taking in a deep breath. I reduced my pace a bit.
“My mom works with the Hans? To think they do kidnapping…” She said, shaking her head.
“Often too, he’s not first one.” I said, finally slowing down to a walk. “My grandpa was actually going to save a girl who got kidnapped a few weeks ago. I tried going after them, but it didn’t work out.”
“In 3 days however, we’re mounting a rescue mission.” And with everyone helping, we’ll manage it.
She nodded. “If you need help count me in. With astral we could check out the layout of the place and stuff!”
“Precisely. That’s why I can’t sleep. I’m restless for this mission. What about you?” I asked.
“Ehh, it’s a little pathetic, but…nightmares. Speaking of, you remember the cat you warned me about?” She picked up quickly.
I raised an eyebrow. “Speaking of?”
“It’ll make sense you’ll see. My grandpa found it on our front lawn so we caught it.”
“You have it? In your house? You didn’t astral around it right?”
“No I didn’t, but…sort of? I had, well, a nightmare about this…fog. I swear there’s a connection to be made, but when I woke up I coughed that fog up and it went and got absorbed in that fog monster with tentacles you described to me. Except it wasn’t beside the cat, it was right behind me. I only saw it for a few seconds, in astral. I wasn’t in astral though, you know? I just…saw it.”
“No, I get what you mean.”
“I just wanted to give you a heads up mostly. You’ve got a lot on your plate right now and we’ve got the cat secured, so you don’t need to worry about it.”
“Oh no please feed me information about this, I need to do something meanwhile, and well this cat has been harassing me for nearly a year now.” I said with a pleading smile.
“A year? And it’s always had that monster attached to it?” She gaped.
“Each and every time I had the misfortune of meeting it in astral.” I nodded.
“That puts a damper on my theory then. I thought the curse might’ve been linked to my nightmares.”
“Wait a second, did you say curse?” As in curse curse?
“Yes my grandma has a book about them that she lent me.”
“Your grandma has a book on curses?” I threw my hands up in the air, remembering the trouble I had with Kaan. “That’s just simply information I’ve been running after for months now.”
“Well, I didn’t finish reading it. My dad is bringing me down to Ridgevalley tomorrow. I could bring it down as well.” She offered.
“Yeah, perfect, you can stop by and I can ask Sebastien how long I can squat in a dead man’s house.” I smirked.
“Hoo, I get to meet you face to face?” She said, floating in front of me.
I raised my eyebrows with a playful smile. “Haven’t we already met face to face?”
“You know what I mean, physically.” She laughed. “Then we can…I don’t know, smell each other.”
“Smell each other!? Hahaha!” I burst out laughing almost instantly, stopping my walk to snort as I did.
“Okay that wasn’t the best example, hahaha!” Ashlynn laughed along.
“Smell each other?” I repeated incredulously.
“It wasn’t that funny!” She said trying to resist the contagious grin. She ultimately failed.“I was just trying to think of what else would be actually different from astral and well smell is the only thing that came to mind.”
“Smell each other…” I said one last time still chuckling. “Well, you know, they say smell determines whether you like someone or not.”
“Oh I’m not worried on that level.” She said, shaking her head with a grin.
“Since we’re getting so comfortable that we’re going to be smelling each other, are you also going to show up like that?”
She stuck her tongue out. “It’s not the first time you’ve seen me in my pyjamas.”
“Speaking of pyjamas.” I picked up. “Some girl came to see me during my dad’s trial, rambling something about my pjs…”
“Oh yes, that was probably Kathrine. My best friend. She’s got a big mouth.”
“You described my pyjamas to your friend?”
“Well she was really adamant on being able to identify you and cute red head was apparently not sufficient.” She snorted, before pausing, seemingly realizing what she’d said.
“And by cute red head I mean, well I’m sure people have told you you’re cute so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.” She said a little rapidly.
I really tried my best not to snort.
“Yes, I admit it doesn’t. I’ve won several awards.” I said as seriously as I could manage.
She eyed me skeptically.
“I’ve won a smell award too.” I said, unable to fight the grin spreading on my face.
“Oh jeez, you aren’t going to let me live that down.” She said with a laugh, her smile lighting up her face.
“Are you kidding, it’s gold!” I exclaimed. “I’ve never had anyone say to me ‘I can’t wait to see you, so I can smell you!’”
“Pff, you better be ready and showered then, I will smell you now that you’re making this a thing.”
“I’m going to put on a delightful flower fragrance just for you.” I smirked.
“Aw, that’s sweet.” She said, playing along. “In exchange I’ll wear something other than my pjs.”
“Hey I mean, if that’s your favorite outfit don’t stop yourself on my account.” I teased.
“Well, pyjamas are comfy…” She admitted, holding her chin. I chuckled shaking my head as I climbed under the bridge.
“Hey…” Ashe began as we reached the area under the bridge. She pointed to someone sitting at the edge of the road. “Isn’t that Zac?”
I squinted and confirmed. Wow she’s got good eyes, she only met him once, at the hospital, too.
“Yup that’s him. Guess he wandered over here to think.”
Ashlynn tilted her head slightly in his direction. “He looks sad.”
“Would make sense I mean, he lost his mom.” I said. Which I get the feeling isn’t something he’d like to talk about, for some ridiculous reason like the fact that I, technically, lost more. I noticed Ashlynn looking at me.
“He looks like he needs a hug.”
I let out a small chuckle, looking at Zac from our spot. As if he’d want that! But…I shot a complicit smile back to Ashe. “Then we better go provide.”
The night is silent. That’s nice.
So yeah, this is really happening. This really happened.
I let out a long breath. It’s been one hell of a two years. And all of this, all of this, because I fell off the top of a building and sent myself into a coma. Without that, I probably wouldn’t have gained this tattoo or this power. Dad wouldn’t have left, and now mom…wouldn’t have died.
I rubbed my forehead. Not that I’m blaming this on Nikolas. At all, far from it. I also don’t regret being friends with him, that’s not…
Look shit just sucks. I watched the river flow with a glum expression as the world slowly lost color.
It’s like I felt his aura before he even showed up. Nikolas – along with his new girlfriend tagging along in astral – joined me on the bank.
And without any warning whatsoever, they both reached over and circled me.
“There, there,” Nikolas said, stroking my hair.
“Oh my god.”
“It’ll all be fine,” Nikolas continued, practically forcing my head on his shoulder.
It’s completely nonsensical, but that might be the worst part.
The fact that yes, it’s all going to be fine.
It’s been a while eh? Since we’d talked in the author’s note, just you and I…Well this is a special occasion that I felt like mentioning.
You know how I keep saying “Volume 1 Arc 4” etc etc, well I can officially tell you that THIS arc, Arc 8, is the last arc to Volume 1.
There are a handful of chapters left to this arc and then it’s the end of Volume 1, which is as phenomenal to me as the end of a season : mostly because let’s be honest, this generation is elusive in how many chapters it will officially contain. I for one, was really uncertain on when this Volume was ever going to end until recently. Though I do enjoy following Niko every second he breathes, the end of Volume 1 also implies a time jump to Volume 2. Granted that’s going to be a short one, of about a year, but it’s already surprising how much we’ll be missing out on in a year.
I’m going to elaborate and give a few warning hints for the following chapters here that involve some minor spoilers. If you don’t want them CARRY ON, there’s nothing else after this heh.
OK so Volume 1 will actually END in 3 days story time. Yes, that happens to coincide with the rescue mission for James (wink wink, nudge nudge). And yes this chapter, whilst at 4 am, counts as Day 1. The following chapters will be stock filled with information for those 3 days. I will be adding time stamps for each section to help you follow. Most of this information is to either close up some things, or to prep for Volume 2.
For the moment it’s not yet clear HOW many chapters this implies, but there’s a high probability that we’ll reach 9.90 before the end of Volume 1.
Per usual, I hope everyone has fun and I can’t wait to reach Volume 2!