It was all Elderidge’s fault. Somehow.
Seraphina did not decide herself that she wanted him to follow her, for some unknown purpose. She did not want to have an uncontrollable power. Even staying in an abandoned house wasn’t something she had been planning to do. Yet here she was.
Seraphina hugged her legs, rocking back and forth, searching for the comfort she had lost. Her heart pumped at quick speeds just thinking of those memories that had happened such a short time ago. That had been a dreadful time when she had discovered her power, but her education had cost many innocent lives. The burden was too heavy to carry on her tired shoulders.
The visions were real and unforgettable experiences that no matter how much she tried to wish for them to disappear or to be dreamed away, they would always linger in her active imagination.
Honestly, Seraphina had forbidden herself from thinking of such things, but a mind like hers wandered to those awful events, and could not be tamed, no matter how much she had tried. Whenever her eye lids drooped for a bit of much needed rest, she would simply plummet into darkness, and another haunting flashback would replay over and over until staying awake seemed to be the only option.
Yet, she decided to try and push those thoughts aside and focus on the task at hand.
Instead of sleeping, though it was what she would rather be doing, she looked out the window through parted curtains as rain drenched the sheet of glass, leaving little blurred patterns that, if you looked close enough at it, could be seen as pictures, a stained glass window of sorts. It also gave Lizbeth comfort knowing that if he came again, Seraphina would be able to get the both of them out of here alive… perhaps.
Next to her, and sound asleep, was Lizbeth, the perfect image of a true friend. After everything that had happened - after everything Seraphina had done - she was still there for her. Lizbeth had helped her realize the true enemy, doing whatever in her ability she could do to protect her from him. She was the sister Seraphina never had.
Seraphina glanced at her once more, noticing her heart rate exhilarate and droplets of sweat form on the peak of her upper lip. Her eyes scrunched and her fist clenched and she shot up to attention.
“He is here!” Lizbeth practically screamed, her voice shaking like a trembling leaf on a falling branch. Turning to Seraphina, she clutched her shoulder and sobbed. “He was there and he was coming for you… and he was… he said he was going to destroy me.” She cried into Seraphina’s shoulder between gasps of breath, and rocked back and forth in her arms. Seraphina hushed her, letting Lizbeth rest her cheek on her shoulder.
“Everything is going to be alright,” Seraphina whispered calmly, yet that was something she was still trying to convince herself of. “I would never leave you.” Seraphina spent the next couple minutes calming Lizbeth, giving words of encouragement and optimism, and whatever else she believed would help.
Pulling back the sheets, Seraphina took a pair of soft, white boots, now covered in mud, and a grey sweatshirt, handing them to Lizbeth. As she slid them on, Seraphina tugged on her black combats boots and a black jacket, that only half-matched her blue tank top and shorts.
Lizbeth stood and Seraphina looked her over to make sure we did not forget anything. Lizbeth’s red hair was hanging loose over her pale face, and her blue eyes sparkling in the little light. Seraphina took a pack from the floor, brushing her midnight black hair behind her ear, and walked out of the door, to the main room. Out of the pack, she took out a flashlight and turned it on, giving off a near-dying light that was only enough to see vague outlines of the walls.
Though Seraphina was glad for the brief amount of sleep she dared to have, she still knew it was not enough energy for any human needed to endure the events in the near future. Yet again, she was not your average 17-year-old.
The enemy was not either, as he was more of a carnivore: a dangerous, selfish, ruthless man who would stop at nothing to frighten Seraphina, or Lizbeth for that matter. He wanted Seraphina’s unique power for his own purposes, whatever those intentions might be. Seraphina seemed to be the only one standing in his way before he got what he wanted, and that was the way she wanted it to be.
“I was hoping he would not be here for another two hours,” Seraphina complained to herself, reading her watch that tightly clamped around her wrist. It was too early for even the birds in the shriveled up trees to be awake. As usual, she had underestimated the enemy, and another mistake such as this one might just cost Seraphina her freedom the next time.
Seraphina and Lizbeth gazed out the window in front of them, as they hid in the shadows, trying to see if he approached. Seraphina’s heart skipped beats and the blood in her veins froze, her face going white. Outside, stood her hunter, Apophis Eldridge.
Eldridge was a tall, well built man that could have possibly been once a gentleman of achievement as told by his stature and politeness at times. He had dark cropped hair and an aura to match it, and always an arrogant, yet surprisingly cunning, smile.
For the last four months, Eldridge had been the enemy, with his one goal of attaining Seraphina and her unique power. Though, for the time being, he remained motionless outside, his black clothing helping him to blend into the night. The only give-away to his existence was his piercing blue eyes that seemed to stare right into the pit of Seraphina’s heart and soul. Just as he always did.
Seraphina pushed Lizbeth to the ground, under the window sill so that she could not be seen by Eldridge who, to the best of Seraphina’s knowledge, knew nothing of aid in their escape, and would surely dispose of her if Lizbeth’s whereabouts were made known. Eldridge thought Seraphina was alone, and so came his constant tormenting of her isolation from the rest of the world whenever they did dare meet. He opened his mouth to speak and Seraphina cringed, bracing herself for Eldridge’s voice. His words were persuasive and invading, and he had a tone to match such thoughts, one smooth, surrounding itself with a sense of darkness and uncertainty. Such a combination was toxic to Seraphina, as the cobra wrapped around her reality, manipulating the rights and wrongs and choices.
“Good morning, Seraphina,” Eldridge began, greeting her like a gentleman, yet he was here on business, where there were no rules or regulations. The fire burned in her mind as Eldridge dared to take a step closer to her, and even though they were separated through a glass window, he was far too close for Seraphina’s taste. Her mind raced with nervousness about such uncertainty, reminding herself of the day they had first met, which was by far the worst day of her life.
Anxiety heightened, adrenalin pumping through her veins as her heart rate excelled and terrible emotions raged like a storm inside her. Rain clouds formed overhead, drizzling in a single trickle and then falling in sheets. The wind swelled, drawing energy from Seraphina’s emotions and soon it began spinning at speeds only a tornado would have. Eldridge still advanced, unaffected by the rain or wind that her emotions threw, and continued walking as if he were walking in a park on a normal day. She tried her hardest to control her thoughts, powers and hope, yet nothing could be done to contain such a fury. “I would not cause another death. Never again.”
“Your powers have greatly improved since the last time we spoke,” Eldridge spoke, stopping only a few steps from the window. The compliment was indeed sincere, as it always was when he spoke, yet Seraphina knew it was just another reason for her detainment.
Seraphina did posses a unique power, though it was more of a curse than a blessing. Most of the time, she could control the weather. Sending twisters, cascade rain and ice from clouds and the like. The majority of the time, unannounced turmoil controlled her power. The power seemed to be created for no one to control, no human at least, even one gifted with its unique ability.
They were not the only ones with such different talents, as there were a few such as them in Tempestree, a city very close to where they were. Lizbeth had suggested to find this place, the safe house to seek shelter and assistance to rid them of Eldridge. They were attempting to do so now. Maybe then, Seraphina could tame her talent, and after weeks of traveling, they would be safe at last.
“Inform Lizbeth that her assistance is no longer required,” Eldridge said, his words bursting Seraphina’s bubble of thought. Seraphina’s eyes widened as she entered a brief center of panic; then returned to their normal state of mind, realizing that if she did react it would only confirm his beliefs. I underestimated his resources again, Seraphina thought, biting her lip. “You are the only one of any use to me.”
A fury raged on inside Seraphina, an anger of the misery that he had caused her life. A disadvantage she had been given that changed the rest of her days. She looked down, her fingertips slowly becoming a dull grey color, and Seraphina instantly shoved Lizbeth away from her.
Seraphina’s skin changed, from her fingers climbing up her arm and down her legs until she was nothing but a cloud. It was almost as if she were a ghost: her figure still seen, but she was nothing but fogged air. She was almost translucent, little lighting strikes touching the water cloud that was Seraphina. There was a pain surging through her, but Seraphina could only let out a whimper, hot air escaping her mouth.
Thunder exploded in the sky high above, hurtling its ferocious resonance toward ears below, and dominant flashes of electricity lit up the sky, as if it was day.
The cloudiness began to fade away, being slowly replaced by her normal skin and she soon returned to how she was before. Seraphina’s knees buckled and fell to the ground, gasping for breath. She looked up, just as Elderidge raised his fists, pounding them against the glass so, in one mighty pound, the shards fell to the floor. Seraphina ducked down as the glass dropped around her, and then stood, running in the other direction.
She snagged Lizbeth’s hand, and then dropped it. Seraphina’s palm was still clouded and as Elderidge came up from behind Lizbeth, a ball of fire held by her neck. Looking closer, Seraphina noticed that it wasn’t a ball of fire, but… Elderidge’s hand was made of fire, just as her palm was.
“Don’t move, or else Lizbeth will get know what fire tastes like,” Elderidge snapped as he drew the fire closer to Lizbeth’s chin. Seraphina paused, glancing over to her friend’s horrified face as it stared at the flame. “Hand me your ring.”
Seraphina looked down at her other hand, where a ring was. It was her mother’s ring that she had been given on that fateful day. It was the only memory she had left.
Suddenly, from the heavens came a bolt of lightning striking the roof of the house and engulfing it in immense flames. A sense of urgency was stuck in her mind and tried to tug the ring off her finger, yet it wouldn’t budge.
“It… It’s stuck,” Seraphina stammered out as she attempted to pull it off once more. “I can’t get it.” She looked desperately at Elderidge as a silent plea.
“You’re running out of time,” Elderidge replied bluntly.
‘What do you want?” Seraphina pleaded as the flames began to catch fire to the floor. She yanked at her ring again, but couldn’t seem to pull it off. “The gem?” Furiously, she got the gem that was attached to the top of the ring off and rolled it around in her hand.
“Yes, yes,” Elderidge said, pleased, as he released Lizbeth. The flames from his hand faded back to normal flesh as he stepped forward and grabbed the gem out of Seraphina’s palm. Lizbeth grasped Seraphina’s hand and together they began to run out of the house.
Ash rained down from the ceiling and smoke blocked their vision. Heat grazed their skin, leaving a stony pain behind. Their lungs choked on the fiery air, seeming to burn them from the inside out.
Lizbeth began to slow down, dragging behind and soon she let go of Seraphina’s hand, stopping in the middle of the house. Dangerous sparks pierced Seraphina’s skin as she was sent into a wild state of confusion. Distress filled her mind, distorting the once clear images of common sense.
“Lizbeth,” Seraphina called out, beginning to grope through the smoke in search of her friend. There was no response to her calling. “Lizbeth,” she called out again, yet this time it was quieter. Her lungs began to hurt and it became hard to breathe. She knew she needed to get out of the house. Seraphina rushed out of the house, and fell to the grassy ground. “Lizbeth,” she said for the last time, but this time it was no more than a whisper.
Her lungs took in the much deserved air, choking over her own thoughts. Seraphina pounded her fist against the ground in defeat.
“I will never leave you,” she heard herself say to Lizbeth. It was the illusion of moments before: the promise. Yet, it was more than that. This was a test of friendship, and Seraphina wasn’t about to give up just yet.
Looking towards the house, she stood shakily, and watched as the supports collapsed into itself. It was now a bonfire of ruin.
Seraphina knew Lizbeth was alright… she had to be, but from the smoke rising into the dawn sunlight, a blurred figure emerged, seemingly unaffected by the blazing heat and the danger of the falling structure. Elderidge blocked Seraphina from looking through the house remains, and smiled devilishly, motioning for her to turn around.
Slowly she faced the other way, and starred out into the rest of the neighborhood. Flames engulfed the rest of the houses, their heat warming Seraphina’s skin and etching their fire into her memory.
“Isn’t it lovely?” Elderidge asked, taking a step in front of her so that he could also look out among to the houses.
“What?” Seraphina choked out, her eyes beginning to water. “The way you’ve ruined my life? Humility?” She crossed her arms, to hold herself in comfort.
“No, Seraphina,” Elderidge replied, he looked over the flames, their light reflecting off his eyes. “Chaos.” He opened the palm of his hand to look at the sparkling gem. “Even the largest turmoil has a slight glimpse of greatness. However greatness and darkness can be very, very similar.” Elderidge laughed to himself, closing his fingers over his palm.
His plan was falling perfectly into place. Creating a depression will be easier than I had originally planned, Elderidge thought to himself, dropping the gem in his pocket.
“And do you want to know the best part?” Elderidge asked, smiling as Seraphina wiped the tears away from her eyes. “You created this pandemonium.” He gazed up at the blood red sky as the sun began to slowly rise. “We seem to be on the same page now. Chaos is the only way to achieve anything.” He did not take his eyes off the horizon, watching as the fire began to die down. “Perhaps we can combine our… expertise.”
“You think I will give in the easily,” Seraphina whispered, clearing her throat.
“Did you hear something?” Elderidge asked, straining to hear. “I thought I heard the wind blowing a fantastic deal out the window.”
“I’m not done fighting,” Seraphina replied quickly, a bit louder than the time before. “You will not get in my way to a new beginning. I shall call the past a memory, but I will not let you name my future.” She stared into the distance, memorizing the sounds and sights of what was happening now. It was horrifying, yet she did not dare to look away.
“Simply listen to me,” Elderidge tried to reason, but Seraphina turned away. He scowled. Such a waste of pure potential, he complained to himself. Revenge was calling his name, and he would gladly answer with a mighty force, but he could wait. He would patiently wait until it was perfect. It had taken years before he could plan every last detail out, bit by bit. His mind had concocted the tips to succeed the wrongs that would be made right. The time would come.
Seraphina paused, looking at one of her hands where her palm was still clouded.
“I can do it,” She whispered to herself, beginning to see her hand grow more and more clouded. Seraphina clenched her fists at her side, and watched as dark clouds began to fill the sky. “It will be the last time.”
“I do not think that there is much you can do,” Elderidge said, yawning. “Perhaps another time.” He stepped back and began to sink into the ground, but Seraphina was not finished with him.
Combining the correct mixture of cold temperatures and water, she clasped her hands together, pulling away. Quickly, she began to mold a ball of snow, moving her hands around so that it could be formed. It was complete: completely compact and dangerously cold. She threw it towards Elderidge’s feet so that he would fall, but he snapped his fingers sending a ball of fire to meet the snow. The heat instantly abolished the snow.
“I shall see you sooner than you think,” Elderidge smiled as he grew shorter, melting into the ground. “You will not even be able to miss me,” he laughed, and he disappeared into the ground. Seraphina frowned, leaning against the fence, but then quickly turned around.
The neighborhood she that had been on fire, was gone. What remained was a charming neighborhood as if nothing had happened, and even the house they had been in was back to normal. The fire had never existed, but an illusion to manipulate her into giving in. And it had almost worked.
She pushed her jet hair out of her face, but her hand was ghostlike, the cloudiness spreading over her body.
“No,” she screamed, the pain of a thousand burning fires was already aching inside of her. Seraphina fell back, disappearing into a dream of past reality, the day everything had fallen apart. She was unconscious.