The Guardians

When 17 year old Finna Hughes gets lost on night while looking for her friends’ party venue, she discovers a whole new world full of creatures from story books that was hidden just out of sight.
*Written for City of Bones competition*

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1. The Guardians

The street was deserted as Finna Hughes made her way down it. The only sound was her shoes clicking off the cold stone of the ground. No cars had past her in a good fifteen minutes. In her hands, she held a crumpled piece of paper with hastily scribbled instructions on how to get to her destination – her best friend Hannah’s 18th birthday party – on it. She stopped and turned in a circle before chewing on her lip nervously.

She was lost.

With an exasperated sigh, she reached into her bag and pulled out her mobile phone. Quickly, she punched in the digits of Hannah’s number and waited. The phone was answered on the third ring.

“Hello? Finna?”

Finna could barely make out her best friends’ voice over the noise of the party. She could hear the bass thumping and people shouting in the background. This just made her even more agitated. Everyone else had managed to find their way there, so why couldn’t she?

“Where the hell are you?” Hannah squawked down the phone. “You’re missing all the fun.”

“I’m lost,” Finna sighed, leaning against the wall of what she presumed was a warehouse. “You’re instructions were rubbish.”

“Well where are you now?” The background noise had lessened now so clearly the girl on the other end had left the busy party room to talk to Finna. Finna looked around her, searching desperately for a street sign. On the corner of the next warehouse along was a small rectangular sign with the words ‘Broadchurch Lane’ printed on it.

“Broadchurch Lane,” Finna said hastily. “I’m on Broadchurch lane.”

There was a pause on the other end before Hannah started talking again. “Okay, look across the road.” Finna did as she was told. In between two large green warehouses was a small alleyway. There were no streets light illuminating it causing the middle of the area to be plunged into darkness. “See that alley?”

“Uh-huh,” Finna said uncertainly.

“Well just go through there, turn left and, voila, you’re here!” Hannah sounded chirpier now. Alright for some, Finna thought, giving the alleyway a sideways glance. She shivered.

“Is there not another way?” she asked.

“Oh come on Finn, don’t be a baby,” Hannah laughed. “I have to go but I’ll see you soon, okay?”

There wasn’t even time for Finna to reply before the other line went dead. She sighed and replaced her phone in her bag.

She took another weary look at the alley before crossing the road towards it. When she got there, she saw that it was about 200 metres long. It’s not that bad, the voice in her head reassured her. The one thing that really put her off though was the fact that the midsection was completely dark. The street lamps on either side cast some light down the alley but eventually faded out leaving about 50 metres in the middle pitch black.

“Be brave,” she murmured, stepping forward and into the alleyway. There were two large bins on the left wall with things scuttling around the bottom that she didn’t really want to think about. The light was fading around her now and her pulse was quickening as she squinted into the oncoming darkness. She heard a sound like something moving coming from within the dark space and stopped dead. She looked back, debating whether or not to return to the safety of the lit street and phone Hannah again. Shaking her head, she turned back towards the other end of the alley. Don’t be stupid, she told herself. There’s nothing there.

That’s when she saw it. A dark figure in the blackness before her. She staggered backwards slightly as it advanced towards her. She could make out the figure slightly more clearly now. It seemed somehow familiar to her. It moved quickly, in one swift motion until it was only inches away from her. She jumped backwards. They were both standing fully in the light now and she realised why the figure had been strangely familiar. She was facing herself.

The person in front of her was medium height and slim yet still curvy. They had long brown hair that fell in waves to just above their waist. They even wore the same tight fitting black maxi skirt and green crop top that Finna had on. They had the same deathly pale skin and the same scar on their right shoulder from an accident she had had when she was little. Their cheekbones were high and angular but not sharp, just like Finna’s. Only one thing was different. They’re eyes. Finna had deep brown eyes, the colour of chocolate, with flakes of gold sprinkled throughout. However, the creature in front of her had large black eyes. It looked as if the iris was just one large pupil.

“Boo,” the double whispered, a half smile playing at the corner of its mouth.  

Finna didn’t even have time to scream. The creature lunged at her and grabbed her by the arm, pulling her close. It bared its teeth at her, revealing wolf-like fangs that she could swear weren’t there a minute ago. She screamed and lashed out, digging her fingernails into the doubles cheek and tearing down. The double let out a cry and let go of her arm. Finna took her chance and ran but it was faster. It appeared in front of her, black eyes narrowed. There was a dark green liquid pulsing from the gash in its cheek. Finna gaged. What was this thing?

It grabbed her again before she had time to answer her question, this time its hands closed around her neck, cutting off her airflow. It was strong, stronger than her by a long shot. She trying clawing at it again but it was useless.

“I do love a fight before a feast,” it snarled at her, baring its wolf-like teeth once more. It arched its head back, readying itself to sink its teeth into her when there was a flash of blinding light from behind them. The double hissed and let her go. Finna’s legs crumpled beneath and she fell to the damp ground of the alley. She looked up slowly through her lashes to see the creature taking off down the alley but before it could make it to the street another light appeared in front of it. The double fell to the ground as the light faded and took the shape of a girl.

She was beautiful. She was wearing a long white dress that was fitted with a corset around her waist. She had gold – not blond but actually gold – hair tied in an intricate braid down her back. Her eyes were like blue crystals, piercing through the double that was cowering on the ground. In her hand, she held a gleaming white dagger. Finna couldn’t help but think that this girl looked like an angel.

“Please,” the double shrieked. “Please don’t kill me.”

“It seems that you’ve broken the rules about how to behave in this realm,” the girl said. Even her voice was beautiful. “And you know that penalty for that, don’t you.”

“Erela,” someone said from behind Finna. “Leave it be.”

Finna turned slightly to see the owner of the voice and stifled a gasp. If she’d thought the girl was beautiful then the boy standing behind her was something else entirely. He was tall and broad, his arms muscular. He wore white trousers and a white t-shirt that hugged his chest and arms. His hair was the same golden colour as the girl’s and his eyes the same crystal blue. Across his back was strung a white bow and a sheath of arrows and he held a dagger very similar to the girl’s.

“But–” the girl tried to protest but the boy cut her off.

“No buts,” he said firmly. “The law for this realm states that on the first account of trouble they are teleported back to their realm and on the second account they are killed. Did you happen to ask if they had been caught up in trouble before?” The girl opened her mouth to respond but then though better of it and closed it. “That’s what I thought,” the boy said, walking past Finna and crouching down next to her double.

“Shift,” the girl ordered it. The double looked up at her, begging with its black eyes. “Now,” she said coldly, narrowing her eyes. The creature shuddered and changed. It no longer resembled Finna but instead a tall man with black hair and lips to match its eyes and yellow skin. Finna made a noise like a moan and pushed herself backwards away from it.

“Now,” the boy said. “Have you ever been stopped before for something of this sort? And remember, you can’t lie to me. I’m a guardian.” He flashed the creature a smile and it narrowed its eyes.

“No,” it spat. “I was hungry. All those stupid laws put in place about where and when I can hunt were driving me insane. And she just looked so delightful, can you blame me?” Its black eyes rolled over Finna and it licked its lips. She shivered.

For the first time, the boy looked at her. He held her gaze momentarily before his eyes fell to the scar on her shoulder. They widened before he quickly looked away. Self-consciously, Finna reached up a hand and covered it.

“Yes,” the girl said sharply. “I do blame you.”

She lightly touched the creatures head and then it was gone. She stared at the spot where it had been sitting before smiling triumphantly. When her gaze fell on the boy her smile faded. He was looking at Finna again, frowning.

“What’s wrong Nate?” the girl asked him.

“Would you please remove your hand from your shoulder,” he asked Finna softly. Finna paused, looking between them both for a moment before removing her hand. The girl gasped.

“It can’t be,” she whispered.

“I think,” the boy smiled slightly. “It can.” He rose from his crouch and offered a hand to Finna. She took it hesitantly and he helped her up. She bit her lip and groaned slightly at the pain that the movement had caused her. She hadn’t realised how much pain she was in until now. “How did you get that scar?” he asked her.

Finna ignored his question. “Wh-What was that?” she stuttered, pointing to where the creature had been just moments ago.

“That,” the girl looked hesitantly at the boy, “was a shape shifter.”

Finna’s eyes widened. It couldn’t be. Those things weren’t real… Were they?

“But they’re not real. They only exist in stories!” Her breath was coming quickly now. “You’re not about to tell me that werewolves and vampires are real too, are you?” The girl looked at her, pity written all over her face. “Oh God,” Finna breathed. “Please tell me this is some kind of joke?”

The other two shared a glance before the girl nodded and they both turned back to face her.  

 “I am Nathaniel,” the boy said, “and this is my sister Erela. We are Guardians of the Realms.” He held a hand out towards Finna. The ends of his fingertips, she noticed, seemed to be glowing. “And I think you might need to come with us.”

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