The Guild – Chapter 129 – Andrei

    I know Kat said to sleep, but now that I’m awake, I can’t seem to close my eyes. It’s true, I’m worried about her. I think she isn’t taking me seriously when I ask her to take it easy. Magic healing or not, I’m worried about her and the baby. Why would Ambrosse make her a teacher now? It doesn’t make sense.

    I look over to her empty spot on the bed and sigh. I see the dragon egg, too, nestled in the sheets. I wonder why she left that behind. Usually, Heath and hear would take turns holding it. I reach a hand out to touch it. Its rough surface feels like lacquered sandpaper.

    The conversation from the afternoon drifts back to me slowly as I lay there, thoughts tumbling in my head like a bingo wheel. Suicidal bravery, love, France, sharing me, Sam, missing pages. I feel a dull ache in my head just thinking about it.

    Ceph said I could be overusing my magic. I don’t doubt it. I have a history of using up all my magic when it comes to Kat. Jumping to Camelot, the dreams, space skipping eight people at once… I’m building a track record. Not to mention, jumping to and from the kitchen and around the Guild.

    I can’t help but get the feeling she thinks I’m not good enough, though. When we train, I feel inferior. My magic can’t stop fire, she says. I bet it could. I can move quickly and distort the time of the space around me. I’m sure these things could help me in a fight against someone with elemental power. Still…

    Besides that, what’s her deal thinking I’d let myself be shared with anyone? That was weird, in my opinion. When you’re in a relationship, you don’t share yourself with anyone. That’s how it should be. You either commit or not. There’s no in-between. Why would she think I’d share myself with anyone, and Samantha in the least? Where’d she get an idea like that?

    I have to wonder about her sometimes. I guess I forget that it’s really only been almost six months since we met and that she still might have some mannerisms from her time with… Logan… Ugh, I hate saying his name. It tastes like something sour…. I don’t want to think about it… but I have to.

    I lay there for an hour, contemplating the things she said he’d done to her and why she might be acting the way she does. When I come to no conclusive decision about him and Kat’s behaviour, I sit up with a groan. I need a shower.

    I wander into the ensuite and start the water. I nearly scald myself when I turn it on, noting the knob being turned to the hottest setting. Jeez, I nearly burnt myself! Gotta be more careful. When I’m done showering I trim my beard and brush my hair. I stare at myself in the mirror, towel around my waist, scars glistening in the lighting.

    Kat seemed to poke fun at me being shy about my body. I chew my lip as I mull on that thought. There’s a reason for it, I told her. There’s a good reason. It’s just not like hers, sort of. My scars remind me of the places I’ve been and the accidents I’ve had. They weren’t inflicted for sadistic pleasure. No, but they all have a personal memory, and I hate when people ask if I did that to myself. I’ve had girlfriends in the past, casually, and the few that ever saw my body always asked if I was suicidal or something. They never believed me when I said no, I got these in accidents. So I stopped showing. I stopped sharing.

    I tilt my chin back, examining a section of my neck where a line crosses from the bottom on my ear to just before my Adam’s-apple. I don’t really remember this one, but it’s the most worrisome. I’m glad Kat hasn’t really brought it up yet. I wouldn’t know how to explain that I don’t remember it. Maybe the facial hair hides it well enough.

    Now that I think about it, didn’t Ceph say Time mages usually have impeccable memory? Why don’t I have a memory for this one? How come I forget where this one’s from but not the rest? It bothers me almost as much as Kat not eating does.

    I stare a moment longer before turning away, leaving the bathroom to find clothes. Once I’m dressed I head out, colliding with Caroline in front of the door.

    “Woah there, is everything ok?” I ask her, holding her steady by the arms.

    “Oh, yea. Sorry. Is Kaitlyn around?” she asks, peering over my shoulder at the door.

    “No, she left a while ago to train with Heath,” I tell her.

    “Ohh… Ok,” she glances down, crestfallen.

    “Why? What’s up? Can’t I help?” I ask hopefully. Anything to get my mind off my own mind right now.

    “Umm, no. Well, I’m not sure. She’ll probably be fine with time I guess,” she rambles.

    “Who will be fine? If you tell me, maybe I can help,” I dip down, trying to catch her eyes.

    “Ok, it’s Hitomi. She still hasn’t woken up from yesterday’s incident in the Danger Room,” she explains.

    “Wait, Hitomi did the Danger Room?” I ask, suddenly worried.

    “Yeah, for like almost eight hours. But she used up all her magic and now it’s like she’s in a coma. She hasn’t stirred,” Caroline says with wide eyes.

    “Have you called Gwen?” I ask, stepping towards Hitomi’s room at the end of the hall.

    “Yea, she’s on her way. She came last night with a tea, but Hitomi never woke up to drink it. Andrei, I’m so worried!” Her breath hitches and I stop, patting her on the arm in comfort.

    “Don’t worry, Car. She’ll be ok. We just gotta wake her up. You’ll see,” I say.

    We arrive at Hitomi’s room and I find Kaede is already there, sitting cross-legged at the side of her futon. A cold cup of tea sits on a try next to her bed. She looks pale in contrast to her short, dark hair.

    Caroline and I dash to the futon and I crouch down, examining her aura. “Her magic’s pretty low. Her aura is very faint,” I tell Kaede.

    “I felt the same thing,” Caroline admits.

    “But I can’t make her drink this tea while she’s asleep. I don’t wanna drown her,” Kaede sighs. He looks tired like he hasn’t slept.

    A second later, Gwen walks in. “Is she still not awake?” she asks, joining us at Hitomi’s side.

    “No, apparently not,” I say. I check to see the rise and fall of her chest, she’s still breathing at least. Suddenly, I have an idea. “What if, being in a coma from low magical energy has put her in the Veil? I mean, Kaitlyn was sort of forced into it, but maybe… Maybe I can find her in the Veil and bring her back like I did with Kat.”

    Caroline looks at me confused. “That doesn’t make sense. You said only Time mages could go there willingly.”

    “Willingly. But others find themselves there if they are trapped between time. Coma is sort of like that, no? Besides. Ceph just told me the other day, he found a younger version of Elias through the Veil. Perhaps people’s dreams are remotely connected to the Veil. It’s worth a shot, isn’t it? Maybe I can bring her back enough for her to drink the tea,” I explain, hoping they get it.

    “Or, you could bring the tea with you,” Gwen says with a serious tone. “If she is in the Veil, then maybe what happens to her physically there would bring her magic back enough to wake her up,” She’s right. I could try, though, I’m not sure if making her soul drink the tea would help her magic here. There’re so many rules.

    “Give me the tea,” I hold out a hand as she passes me a tea bag. It smells different than the one she gave Kaitlyn yesterday. No trace of cinnamon.

    Gwen seems to notice I’m perplexed and smiles knowingly. “This one’s designed for a Wind Mage. Different herbs,” she says.

    “Oh, ok,” I take the tea and shift into a cross-legged position. I focus on my breathing and try to enter a sleeping state, in order to cross into the Veil.  

~*~

    When I open my eyes, I’m surrounded by a sunless sky, standing on the precipice of a vast cliff. I stumble back, suddenly afraid of falling. I look around, wondering how I might find Hitomi in the Veil, if she’s here at all.

    The top of the cliff is treeless and rocky. I can’t believe how high up I am. I lean out over the edge, looking for a way down. The top is maybe thirty paces wide and ten across. I wander around and find a slanted section in the cliff, but before I can make it over there I’m buffeted by a strong wind that blows me in the opposite direction.

    The whistling of the wind screams in my ears and suddenly I hear a faint voice.

    She’s not that way.

    I look around for the voice but see nothing. I spin around and suddenly see a tall Japanese man with a long black ponytail and a Samurai blade on his back, dressed in a white kimono. He looks youthful, but worry shadows his face.

    “Who are you?” I ask him.

    I am Kaze. I am the wind. And you are Andrei, the Time Mage. Hitomi Hime, she is trapped below. He says grimly.

    “How do you know Hitomi?” I ask him sternly.

    I am her Guardian, I am her wind. We are practically one. You must hurry. He turns to face the direction of the sheer cliff face and leaps off the edge.

    I cringe, racing to the edge in shock. When I peer over the edge I see him hovering in the air, looking down the cliff. I look past him and see her, crouched on the narrow ledge overlooking the mountainside.

    Without her magic, I can not meld with her. Now, she is stuck there and I cannot help her out. She needs you. He says, looking up at me with a sad look.

    I nod my understanding. “But… How do I get there?” I ask him.

    I will help you.

    He stretches out a hand for me and I hesitantly take it. Suddenly I’m blown off the cliff by a gale and I feel like I’m falling to my death, until the wind swings about, dropping me onto the narrow ledge next to Hitomi. I realise I could have space skipped here. That I know works here. God, where is my head?!

    She looks up, rainbow eyes fixed on me. We haven’t really talked since she got here. Will she understand me? I wonder…

“You are Andrei kun. How did you get here?” she asks me in English.

    “I can come here. It’s a part of my magic,” I try to explain. She nods. I sigh in relief. “Gwen, she gave me this tea. You need to drink it. Please come with me,” I say, crouching by her side.

    She looks at the tea bag in my hand and then back at me. “Ok,” she stretches out a hand to me and I stand, helping her up.

    “Walk with me,” I instruct her. She looks at her feet and I step off the ledge. She follows and we space skip to the kitchen of the Guild, except it’s empty. She looks around, eyes wide. I feel a breeze behind me and look over my shoulder. Kaze has followed us. I guess that’s the spirit that usually follows her around. I wonder why I can see him here and not in the real world.

    I lead her to the kitchen and brew the tea. When It’s done I set the cup in front of her. “You should be able to wake up once you drink this. Then the others will be there to help you. Ok?”

    She looks at me, a strange look in her eyes. “I didn’t know you spoke Japanese,” she says quietly.

    I stare at her. “I don’t.”

    “But you’re speaking it, now,” she says.

    I purse my lips in thought. I wonder if the Veil is like my time jumps, translating for me like it does through time. It’s a possibility. “I think it’s this place, the Veil. When I time jump, my magic translates for me. Perhaps it is the same here,” I explain to her.

    She nods. “I see. You’re always with the red-head, Kaitlyn San. She’s… so beautiful. I can’t talk to her though,” she says, holding the tea.

    “Why not?” I ask, leaning on the counter. I forget Hitomi is so much younger than the rest of us.

    “Because she’s… I’m a little scared. I can’t speak English well. She won’t understand me, and… She’s always with you. She is quiet,” she stares at her tea.

    I smile. “I sure she’d love to talk to you. Kaitlyn, she’s shy, a little like you. She was way more shy when I first met her. But maybe you two will get along. We should eat lunch together when you wake up. Ok?” I look into her rainbow eyes.

    A small smile creeps across her lips and she brings the tea to her mouth. “Ok,” she says as she drinks the tea. In moments, her form vanishes as she wakes up. Kaze, who stood behind her, smiles and bows to me, before he too vanishes.

    I wonder how long I’ve been gone in the waking world. Hours, or minutes? I have no clue until I wake up. I inhale slowly, letting myself wake.

~*~

    I open my eyes and see Kaede, Caroline and Gwen bother staring at me. Hitomi sits up on her futon, a mug of tea in her hands. She looks at me as I wake, her rainbow eyes gleaming with happiness. I give her a smile and place a hand on her knee, relieved she’s ok. She gives me a small smile and takes another sip from her cup.

    “Oh, I’m so relieved!” Caroline nearly cries. Kaede beams, a grin on his face from ear to ear.

    “I’m sure you guys got it from here,” I say, they nod happily. “I think I’m going to see how Kaitlyn’s doing. I’ll see you guys at brunch? In an hour?” I ask them. They nod and I stand to leave, happy I could help.

    I make my way through the halls towards the training rooms, feeling a little drained myself. I press a hand to my temple, trying to make the dull ache behind my eye go away. I needed to use magic then. I had to help Hitomi. It was necessary, so why does it still hurt? Ughh.

    I finally reach the training rooms and look for the one where Kat and Heath are using. I stop by one, peeking through the small window in the door and spot Kat, standing with her back to me. Past her I see Nik explaining something to Heath, who looks like an orange pylon, glowing hot like magma. My eyes shift back to Kat before I open the door and I notice she’s wearing a different shirt than the one she wore when she left this morning.

    I twist the handle and enter the inferno of a training room, bringing my hands up to cover my face as the heat blasts me in the doorway. I see Kat spin around through the small space between my arms.

    “Hey! Miss me?” I ask, taking a shallow breath.

    “What are you doing?” she runs across the mats toward me. “I told you, it’s not safe!”

    I feel the heat singing the hair on my arm but in the moment I’m about to answer, the room suddenly cools down and I peek through my arms to see Heath, black hair and pale skin, kneeling on the mats beside Nik, staring at me.

    “Yea, I know. Thought I’d try it anyway,” I say, lowering my arms and rubbing the singed hair. Now I smell gross, like burnt hair. Eww.

    “You’re kind of an idiot, you know that?” Kat frowns.

    “Kind of. Not completely,” I grin, winking at her. I wave to Heath and Nik. “You guys hungry? I’m thinking about making brunch soon.”

    “Starving,” Nik smiles. “We’ll meet you out in the hall in a minute, ‘kay?”

    “Right, outside,” Kat grumbles, pushing me back out the door.

    “But, the heat’s gone!” I protest as the door slams shut behind her. I pout, grumbling to myself and leaning against the wall opposite the door. “What’s the big idea? It wasn’t that bad,” I complain, rubbing my arms. I think I feel a sunburn forming.

    “Right,” Kat reaches up, pulling a singed lock of my hair in my face. “Your hair says it all. You’re lucky, another few seconds and you’d be bald!”

    “Oh my God! My hair! No!!” I cry out, running my fingers frantically through my hair. Of everything I own, I think I’m most proud of that. “Ahh, I just washed it too. Darn it all!”

    “This is serious, Andrei. You could’ve been seriously burned,” Kat scolds, hands on her hips.

    I reach out for her, forgetting my hair. “That’s what I have you for,” I wink, reaching my arms around her waist to pull her close. I don’t like that look on her face. It makes me slightly nervous, so I try to joke my way out of this one.

    “You have me to burn you?” she raises both brows. Woops. That’s not how I meant that. When she says it, it sounds so much worse.

    “No, I didn’t mean it like that. I mean, I have you to keep me warm. I’m getting used to it, slowly. I even almost scalded myself in the shower this morning! I think you left the heat on when you last used it,” I mention as a side note.

    She buries her face in her hands with a groan. “It’s only a matter of time before I really hurt you…”

    “No, you’d never do that! Besides, I’ll probably end up doing it to myself before you ever get the chance,” I grin, feeling stupid. Now I’m just saying whatever comes to my mind first, hoping she’ll laugh. I don’t want her to be angry at me, or worried. I just want her to laugh.

    She lifts one hand away from her face, smacking it against my chest. “Don’t say that, it’s not funny! You have no idea how much that scares me.”

    I frown when something on her hand catches my eye. I grab her hand before it hits me again and take a closer look. “What’s this?” I ask, practically pressing my nose to her palm. “Is this… blood? How’d you hurt yourself if Nik is training Heath, hmm?” I ask, looking up through my lashes at her.

    She flushes bright pink, and I notice more blood smeared on her other hand as she pulls it behind her back. She clenches her hand into a fist and tries to pull it away from me. “It’s not… I’m fine.”

    Using both hands I pry her fingers open, looking for a mark. “Someone’s healed you. You’re lying to me. Why are you lying to me?” I look at her, a little heartbroken.

    “That’s – I’m supposed to be mad at you right now!” she pouts. “You’re the one who walked into an oven!”

    “You’re the one keeping secrets!” I poke. “How’d you hurt your hands?” I press. “Just tell me,” I say a little softer.

    “It… was just a little accident. No big deal,” she mumbles, looking away. I follow her gaze and see the Danger Room.

    “A little accident?” I hum, lifting her palm to my lips and placing them softly on her skin. I close my eyes as I kiss them. “Only…” kiss, “a little…” kiss, “accident?” kiss.

    “Uh huh…” her voice quivers and her hand trembles. I look up and see her bite her bottom lip. I grin through my kiss and cup her hand gently in mine.

    “Well, if it was just a… little accident, then you shouldn’t have any problem telling me, right?” I lift her finger to my lips and close them around the tip, sucking on her finger. “If you don’t want to, I could… check the replay,” I suggest, glancing at the Danger Room, sideways.

    “W-what? W-why would you d-do that?” she asks, flustered. Man, she’s such a terrible liar.

    “You said, it was just a small accident, so there’s nothing to hide, and I know how shy you get sometimes, so I’ll save you the trouble and check the replay,” I wink.

    “Why-why would you think there was anything to replay,” she frowns. “We were in this room, not the danger room.”

    “Oh? Then why do you keep looking over in that direction? You know I know you’re a terrible liar,” I grin mischievously, returning her finger to my lips.

    “I.. It wasn’t… I didn’t…” she stumbles over her words. She gives up on trying to form a complete sentence and just looks up with her big, beautiful eyes.

    “Mhmm,” I smile, dropping her hand and leaning into her face for a kiss. I feel her blush and pull away with a small chuckle. “So, what should I make for brunch? You can go get the guys. Car, Kae, Gwen, and Hitomi will also be coming, I think.”

    Kat lets out an exasperated sigh. “I don’t know… What do people usually eat for brunch?

    “A big breakfast? Brunch can be anything from breakfast or lunch, really. What do you feel like?” I ask, smiling at her simple question.

    “I don’t know. What do you think everyone would enjoy?” she purses her lips, worried.

    “You’re cute when you think about food, did you know that?” I grin. I just want to eat her up. Her brows crease, and she looks at me like I’ve got three heads.

    “Haha, come on. I’ll think of something nice. Maybe… Breakfast burritos,” I grip her hand gently in mine and spin her around to face the door. “Let’s get your boys and we’ll meet everyone in the caf.” She nods slowly, following as I lead her back to the door and knock.

By Kayla West

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