Charley left soon after and I headed to the woods humming to myself. Leaves and sunlight trickled down from above. Moss covered the tress and small animals scurried along the damp floor. I felt the presences of someone else and flew up a nearby tree. Squatting close hugging its rough trunk. I peered through the branches squinting to make out a crouched shape. It stood up outlining a middle-aged man with snow-white hair. A memory clicked into place and a flash of white on blue and brown swam vigorously in my head. The man twitched and slowly turned his head my way. His figure crouched again and a howl erupted into the night. My body trembled and my breath evaporated into the air. The wolf ran towards my tree and sniffed at the spot where I left. He glanced around and ran off into the underbrush silently.
I waited a few minutes making sure he was gone. I was about to fly down when another dark figure rose from the ground, a large grin plastered on his face. “Comfy?” his hushed voice whispered. I stumbled nearly falling of the tree, but controlled my balance ending up a meter away from the trunk. And his smirk became wider. He came closer and stood next to me. Slowly he walked around me and flipped underneath coming back on the other side of the branch. I frown, my heart quickening in pace. I observed him quickly assessing every detail. No wings but can hover. His clothing seemed to come from a production of Romeo and Juliet.
And he had the strangest mix of colours in his eyes, colours of the blue sky were separated by streaks of black and gold. He studied me too his eyes focusing on my chest. “Perv,” I told him putting my hands in front of me protectively. He chuckled at my stance. I stood up to my full height my confidence kicking in.
“Sneak,” he replied.
“Princess,” his smile widening like he new something I didn’t. “What did you just say?” I stepped towards him but he slipped around me. “You heard me.” I shook my head not allowing myself to remember the images from Tammie’s black box. I fell to the ground silently and trampled through the forest. The creatures hurried away from me. Crawling up trees and under leaves and bushes. I heard him follow me and I started to run. Stumbling through the undergrowth, the small sticks and thorns cutting into my bare legs. The rustling sound continued behind me causing me to run faster. My breath was coming in small gasps now shallow and quick. My heart pounded. A tree root seemed to reach out and grab my ankle causing me to tumble to the ground. I grabbed my leg in pain. I looked up into the treetops and saw the boy again. Making me look at him a second time. He was my age maybe a couple years older.
He gave me yet another dazzling smile showing of his perfect teeth. He hovered down to my side. Dark brown hair covered most of his confusing eyes. Shadowing his face. He quickly flicked his wrist, creating a small orb of glittering red light up. He held it over my head letting small flakes trickle down my head. I looked at my legs the scrapes began to re-stitch themselves. Soon they completely disappeared, along with the pain in my leg.
I flicked my wrist in the same motion as he did but nothing happened. I was so confused right now. He started to laugh and laugh and laugh. If he wasn’t hovering in front of me with supernatural healing powers he might actually be good looking. He continued to laugh as he mimicked my failing attempts and successfully lit an orb around his hand. He stared at it in wonder like he hand never seen anything like it. I glowered at this strange forest boy. A small leather messenger bag hung over his shoulder. A small chant echoed in my head and in my head I chanted the words:
“Nothing is as it seems,
Good Fairies aid in this dream,
I have a problem, for which I beckon your aid,
Let my weakened confusion fade,
Can you tell me the answer, of which you know?
I need your magic for the question so,
Who is this boy I would like to know.”
The boy was still playing with his trick. I looked around and underneath a very old Oak tree with moss all up its trunk sat a small little Fairy. I knew she was a Fairy not a Faerie because she had glowing green wings with brown tips, telling anyone who spots her that she is a Forest Keeper. She smiled at me and whispered into my head; he loves to muck around and play with his powers, he is very powerful so be warned, he is 16 and is a Faerie. Oh and he works for your Mother, he is the Royal Messenger.
And with that the little Keeper disappeared into the night.
“Hey, I’m Azura” I said, he looked harmless enough. He smiled at me like I had pointed out the obvious and said, “I met you what like 10 minutes ago and you already think I’m stupid?” he frowned mischievously at me. I opened my mouth to speak but nothing came out.
“You what?” I asked. His sickening smile returned and he looked out towards the Forest. “I know you more then you know yourself Azura,” he started, I scoffed. Turning back around he raised his eyebrows at me. “So you have specialized?” My eyes widened in horror at the question. He is guessing, I told myself. “Am I?” yet again he had made my eyes widen. Who is this guy? The boy in front of me smiled wickedly.
Muttering under his breath came “that’s for me to know and you to find out,” and with that he was gone. Leaving a ticking sensation on my cheek like he had bent over and kissed me. I touched it gingerly.
On the old Oak to my left was a leaf and carved into it was; it’s yours forever and always, Aston. Underneath the leaf sat a small silver necklace and an orb of glass hung from the middle. I picked it up and inspected it closely. Inside the glass case was a small light. I touched the orb admirably and a flash of pictures erupted into my head. Aston was in an eerily familiar garden, a reflecting pond beside him. Another image replaced the first and a wicked smile played amongst his lips. He peered up to a woman. Her long hair cascaded down her shoulders. And big hazel eyes pinched with laughter. I know her.
Again the image changed to the scene from before when he was hovering over me. He leant in this time and whispered those same words ‘it’s yours forever and always.’ What did they mean?
I gasped as I realized that I had somehow made my way back home. My fingers were pressed to the gate and the necklace hung from my neck. My glittering key jingled along with it like long lost friends. I took deep breaths calming myself. After a few minutes I crept inside and went straight to the kitchen. Food was always my savor. In the cupboard I looked between chips and an apple. When I heard footsteps. I froze in the cupboard. I pushed my ear to the door and listened intently to the voices outside it. “She mustn’t know,” a hushed voice whispered. I panicked and looked from side to side at the walls. As if they were holding the key to my missing answers.
“They are going to find out soon enough. They are known for it,” a female voice reasoned. I heard a coughed and what sounded like glasses being moved. “Well just make sure it isn’t by you two,” the voice growled and with that the commotion was gone with the sound of the shutting door. My eyes widened in shock. I peered out the cupboard door and quickly picked up an iPod and shoved the earphones in. When my Mum and Dad came in I nodded my head to the imaginary beat. They looked at each other in shock and I bit into my apple. Wait what apple? I looked down. Huh, my body makes healthy choices.
Later that night we all sat down at the dinner table and looked weirdly at the food in front of us. “Even I can cook better then this,” Nixie’s mouth was a round O, eyes looking at everyone else. I look down again at my pinkish chicken. Raising a suspicion eyebrow I slowly cracked a smile at Kale. “Hey Kalen, why did the chicken cross the road?” I heard my voice smirk. My brothers face gave only one emotion away; annoyance. My smirk became a full out grin. “Because you didn’t bloody cook it!” I shoved the accusing dish away from me.
After dinner I started to wash up, involuntarily by the way. Kale started out towards the door and I turned suspiciously towards him. “Where are you going?” I asked impatiently. Kalen just put a finger to his lips shushing me. I glared back. Dad came around to corner to a sight of both Kalen and I staring intently at each other. I looked at Dad my hands on my hips. “I am not doing the dishes by myself,” I told them both sternly. I hoped. Kalen choked back a husky laugh and Dad just grinned widely. “Hey, Dad you should invest in this amazing thing that cleans the dishes, I hear its life changing,” Kalen looked over towards Dad. My Father shook his head and walked over towards the table.
“Oh really,” Dad replied.
“I already have one of those. Its called Azura.” The two of them laughed loudly and I threw a dish down into the murky water. Sending a spray of bubbles into my face. Causing the two goof balls to laugh even louder. I huffed. The water in the sink slowly arose. Its wobbling shape drifted over towards Kalen and hovered over his head. Threatening. A slight giggle escaped Nixies mouth as she rounded the corner. Her hands slightly rose at her sides.
I took pleasure in seeing Kalen’s eyes widen in horror, his pupils growing enormously big. I let out a round of laughter, doubling over onto my knees is giddiness. The jelly like water above him slowly evaporated into thin air and Kale relaxed. Nyx and I high fived and swayed out the room, like princesses to a throne.
I lay in bed later that night staring at the ceiling. I couldn’t sleep. All I could think about was that boy in the Forest. What had the Keeper said he was? A Royal messenger? Well that would explain the ‘messenger’ bag. I giggled slightly in my warm sheets. I need to find out who he is. I shot out of bed and tiptoed down stairs, to my Mum’s office.
The room was fairly big, with bookcases lining the walls on either side of her desk. A computer sat on a desk piled high with paper work and folders. The screen buzzed alive when I shook the mouse. I scanned through the folders on the computer looking for anything to do with Royal servants or Faeries. When my research came up with nothing I moved towards the desk and searched there. I looked through paperwork, folders, notebooks and draws. I was about to give up when my eyes scanned across a series of words: Abre De Vita. I frowned. That sentence has Latin, French and Spanish in it. I picked up the thickened file and scurried out the room. I don’t know why but my instincts told me to take it.
Once safely back in my room I opened up my computer and typed into Google, Abre De Vita. The results were pretty much useless a part from one. A site was by a Mythologist that went by the name Daniel Durbon. Why did that name sound familiar? He said it was a Kingdom of Spirits in the lost cities of the world. The name meant Tree of Life in three different languages.
I saved some of the paragraphs talking about where it was rumored to be and why it disappeared. At the end of the text something caught my eye. A picture or more like a symbol. A center city was surrounded by other cities in a diamond shape. I tried to remember where I had seen them before but couldn’t think. I turned back to the folder.
Slowly I read the whole thing front cover to back, and read it once more. It was research on everything about the place. Except unlike Daniel Durbon’s site this one confirmed that it was the Fey Kingdom. To the North was Olsana the Earth Kingdom. The Air Kingdom, Mavietta sat on the Eastern side. Ignis, the Fire Kingdom was on the Southern border. On the West sat the Water Kingdom, Chandora. And in the middle of it all sat the center city, Abre De Vita or Tree of Life, the Spirit Kingdom.
I gasped taking in all this new information. I looked at the time; 1:07 a.m. Well I’m gonna die in the morning, I thought helplessly.
I wondered what the actual Realm was named. I looked through more of the file again searching for the answer. Elmerada was written in more than one place but it wasn’t specified as something. I frowned again at the papers.
I need a list of Royal messengers. As if the folder had heard my thoughts, apiece fell out and onto the floor. I looked at it.
I stopped suddenly and listened to the houses creak. The stairwell groaned unhappily like the elderly to help. My eyes widened in horror. Oh. My. God. I shoved the papers into my desk, quickly but quietly and opened up messenger on my laptop. I quickly sent some messages to Charley and pretended to look interested. My Mother opened the door and peered through. I turned and looked tired, which wasn’t hard to do. She frowned at the sight of me on the computer at this time.
I smiled guiltily. “Talking to Charley again?” she said not-too-happily. I nodded. She shook her heart shaped head. “It’s bed time come on. Azura you should know better,” she looked disappointed. Luckily she didn’t see what I was actually doing. I shut my computer reluctantly and crawled into bed.
My Mum came over and sat next to me and stroked my hair until I fell asleep.
In the morning I woke to the sound of scratching on my balcony door. I slowly got out of my warm bed and went to it, unwillingly. Below stood Clover in denim shorts and a singlet. What now? I shook my head and raced downstairs to meet her. ‘Umm. Should I say anything?” I asked her. She smiled at me cruelly and gave me a hug. “Kale let me in. He said that it’ll be a miracle to wake you up,” she giggled. She giggled, like she actually giggled. “Who are you and what have you done with my friend?” I put a hand on my hip and tilted my head, she laughed.
“What are you doing here anyway?” I questioned.
“Charley said that you agreed to come to the party on the pier with him. So I came and got you because I am an amazing little friend and messenger,” she claimed. The last word struck a chord.
“Right,” I dragged the word out. We were in the kitchen now and I jumped up on the bench and swung my legs like a child. “So you are going to come, right?” Clove asked her wild hair swayed. I nodded reluctantly. She squealed excitedly, jumping up and down.
At that point Kalen walked round the corner. They stared loving at each other and I got the feeling I was intruding on something. I coughed loudly. Kale came round to Clover and hugged her affectionately, kissing her cheek. Whoa, wait what? I coughed again and they kissed each other. I face palmed myself and went to walk upstairs just as a nervous giggled escaped Clovers mouth. That did it. I flung round and ran straight into Kalen’s back, causing them to stumble apart. “Sorry didn’t see you there,” I said biting into my lip. Kale glared at me and adjusted Clover. I gagged. “Come on Clover we have a party to get to,” I pronounced unhappily.
“What party?” Kalen asked innocently to Clover.
“Oh, just Valarie King’s party down at the pier,” she replied like a lovesick puppy. “But you can’t come,” I told him grabbing Clover’s wrist. Kalen just frowned.
“Why not?” Clover asked tugging her wrist back. I glared at her. “It’s my brother, not some new toy,” I told her deadpan. She made a sound in the back of her throat like she was whimpering.
Like a dog or... a wolf. My eyes became alive like fireflies. I let go of her wrist and muttered something under my breath and ran upstairs. I got changed into a floral bikini and a summer dress. Running back down the stairs I grabbed Clover and pulled her out the door.
When we arrived at the pier people surrounded Clover and I quickly. I stumbled through them, trying to get to the water. I felt like I was lost in a sea full of nameless faces. I continued to rush through them trying to find an escape. I felt a warm hand grasp mine and pull me out. I gasped like a helpless doll. I thought it Charley at first but once I flew out of the crowd and came face first with someone’s chest that didn’t feel like his I knew I was in trouble. I looked up.
And the Forest boy smiled giddily down at me. A white top clung to his chest and a Varsity jacket over it. I took a step back. “What an odd surprise,” his smirk began to grow when he saw my confused face. I looked down at my wrist to catch the last traces of a bluish aura disperse. “What are you doing here?” I asked numbly.
“Well I was enjoying the party but I decided to save a damsel in distress,” he told me matter-of-factly.
I frowned, “Right.”
“I was actually. That Valarie is one nice gal. She has a great body too,” he raised his eyebrows proudly. I shuddered. I shook my head and turned around heading towards the end of the wooden path, where the water met. I heard footsteps behind me as Forest boy caught up. “Where you headed?” he asked falling into step with me. Like he actually cared. He nodded his head knowingly. “I do actually.” I looked at him in the corner of my eyes. His hair fell over his eyes. A boyish smile played along his lips.
“Stop. Don’t do that,” I told him speeding up.
“Do what?” If he could read my mind then he would probably not admit it. “Oh I’ll admit that. I don’t really like mysteries they annoy me.” He winked annoyingly just to prove his point. I stopped and glared. “Me too. Sometimes I get so pissed off I just give up. That usually involves burning the pages or snapping the disc.” I cocked my head and kept going.
“Ouch, that hurt,” he touched his chest where his heart would be. Come on Charley where are you? I looked around. And scanned every face. Anyone, I’m willing to see anyone. Tammie stood by herself near the railing and I thanked the lord or whoever was up there. I smiled happily and walked quickly over to her. “Hey Tammie,” I called as I neared her. She spun around and smiled back at me. That smile faded as she saw whom I was with. I looked over my shoulder to Forest boy and back to Tammie confused. “You two know each other?” she asked moving her hands into her pockets.
I shook my head, “nope, don’t even know his name. He just seems to pop up everywhere I go. Kind of annoying actually.” Tammie and Forest boy seemed to have a silent conversation and I just stood there. I coughed. “Aston,” Tammie told me breaking eye contact with Forest boy to look at me. “Come again?” I asked. She motioned towards the guy standing next to me. “His name is Aston, as in Forest Boy.” Damn I am smart. I though wittingly to myself.
“No you’re not. You gave up on the mystery,” Aston looked
disappointed. I glared back at him.
“You’re lucky I didn’t screw you over or hit you with something heavy.” I snapped. He laughed huskily. It was sexy. He smiled at that thought.
“With what?” he grinned triumphantly. Shit he annoyed me. My knee struck out into his crotch and he doubled over in pain. Astons face scrunched up, and I smiled down at him, now triumphant. “With that,” I said down to him. Tammie laughed; hard. And I joined in. “Don’t worry I’m ok,” he wheezed out.
A couple of minutes had passed until Aston was back to normal. And he was already starting to piss me off. All three of us stood together. I jumped up onto the railing and swayed my feet over the edge like I did when I was in the kitchen. As I looked over the pier I noticed Charley with a bunch of guys goofing off near the Carnival games. I smiled happily. Aston jumped up next to me and swung his legs in time with mine. He looked over towards Charley. An unhappy look crossed his face. And his legs stopped swaying.
Hmm. Once that thought left my head Aston smirked at me. “Why date him-" he nodded his head towards Charley "-when you could date me?”
I looked at him in the corner of my eye. He jumped of off the railing and mimicked the way Charley walked. I gave him my sternest look. “If I wanted to date crap I would date a porter-potty.” Tammie lost it and was on the floor in tears of laughter. It echoed around us. I smiled widely at Aston and he grinned back.
“What’s so funny?” Charley’s voice broke Tammie’s laughter and Aston turned and glared at Charley. Bad, really bad. I jumped down from the railing and headed over towards Charley. I put my hands on his chest and kissed him on the cheek. “Hey,” I said. Charley put a protective arm over me but continued to stare at Aston. Well this just got awkward. “Charley this is Aston my argh, umm-“
“Family friend. We grew up together. I’m visiting from New York. Staying at Azura’s for a couple of weeks. Nice to finally meet you, Azura talks a lot about you,” Aston put his hand out but Charley didn’t shake it. I nudged Charley and he took it ungratefully. Thank you, I told Aston silently. He nodded.
Tammie coughed. I raised my eyebrows and sighed as the testosterone started to choke me. Aston seemed to try and pry Charley’s hand away from me with his eyes. Stop it, it’s only going to get worse if you do that.
Time to go, like now. “Let’s go on the Ferris wheel,” I told Charley, taking his hand and walking the other way. I waved to them both, Tammie looked Aston up and down and moved away. As we queued for the ride Charley kept me close as though I was going to run away. I leaned into him and inhaled his pinecone smell.
He kissed the top of my head and rocked me back and forth. Once we got onto the ride I looked all around us at the ocean. The cliffs sat looming over to one side and clouds sat in the sky like flags. I smiled happily. When we got to the top I looked down. The Carnivals Pier was only tiny from up here and the shops seemed pea sized. I looked over to where Tammie, Aston and I where only a moment ago. The area was deserted now only one lone person stood looking up. Aston smiled up at me with his hands in his pockets.
I continued to stare at him until he walked away and disappeared into the crowd. “Are you sure you are just family friends?” Charley asked concerned. I looked back at him and kissed him lovingly. “Yes. I only need one boyfriend,” I told him. But my heart beat quickened as I thought of having Aston as my boyfriend. You love me already; I heard a faint voice echo into my head. You can talk back! I screamed at Aston. He laughed at me. Of coarse, have fun with the hunter.
I sighed as I settled into Charley. Wondering what an odd name Aston had called Charley was. “What does your last name mean?” I asked Charley, turning to look at him. He smiled fondly and chuckled. “My family came from a long line of Spanish and Latin people. Many family feuds and arguments happened between them. Some even made it into History books and news articles dated back to the 1800’s. When my Grandfather made the decision to move his family to the States many disagreed. Some tried to stop him but failed. My Grandfather was a very stubborn man, something that was passed on through generations of Venator men. But once we settled here, something magical happened. Something that we could not even explain to today. The folklore of vampires, witches, dragons and fairies seemed to come alive and become our ancestors. Even now our people seem to be gifted with a different life. Tainted if you must. But in the end, some follow but some lead.” I smiled up at him as the Ferris wheel started to clunk down to the floor.
It was only later on that night when I was looking over the now moon light ocean that he hadn’t answered my question. Venator. That name seemed to haunt me for days. Whispering in my ear like a ghost. As it called on me to answer it, to find out more.