Fighting Carmen had been tiring, her moves elegant and graceful but fast and fierce. Most had been hard to catch; I knew I would have plenty of bruises later. I soon caught on to her movements, she definitely had a rhythm going, 1,2,3 hit, 1,2,3 swing, 4,5 jab, 6,7 sweep. She went on like this continuously, and once I had her rhythm, it only took a split second to knock her over. She looked up at me in surprise. Obviously sword fighting was not a strong point for her but she still hadn’t expected me to beat her. I stuck out a hand which she took gratefully. “This is not my first time fighting one of you.” I explained as I heard the words, ‘how the fuck’ run through her head. And I had thought angels didn’t swear.
Drake and Ash were still fighting, both desperate to overpower the other. Ash didn’t have a rhythm and neither did Drake, I was probably going to have to tell Carmen about that later. “No need, Ash has been trying to train me out of it for years; I guess I’m just not suited to sword fighting. But I am very skilled at what we are trying you at next.” I gave her a questioning look. “You’ll see.” She smiled at me and out a finger to her lips. And with a crash that echoed through the entire of Wolke von Englen, Drake knocked Ash to the floor. Sweat dripped off his brow and he was panting like a horny Chihuahua. He looked up as I thought it and smiled teasingly, of course he heard that. I winked at him and he ran over and swept me into his arms. I’m guessing he is horny, just not a Chihuahua.
“You bet ya fire girl.” I poked my tongue out at him and he poked his out back.
“Immature” I murmured under my breath. He laughed, deep and sexy.
“You started it.”
“Yes I did.” Our lips met and this time we poked our tongues into each other’s mouths, fighting for dominance. Unfortunately our fight was cut short by Ash clearing his throat.
“Come on you two, you’ll have time for that later. Now we have archery practice.” Carmen rolled her eyes and started towards the other end of the training field. Hand in hand, Drake and I follow, as we got there Ash handed each of us a bow and Carmen handed us each a quiver of ten arrows. Ash and Carmen then moved us to separate targets, both at least 40 metres away. I gulped, I could fight with a sword but I had never even dreamed of being able to shoot an arrow, how the hell was I even supposed to string it. “Like this.” The words came from Drake, echoing through my stressing head. I watched as he strung his arrow, paying careful attention to everything he did, I watched as he shot it. I guess my telling him to be confident was working after all.
I flexed my fingers and did exactly as he showed. I put the head of the arrow in the middle of the wooden part of the bow, pulling the tail between my index finger and my pointer finger of my left hand; I grabbed the string with it and stretched it back so my hand touched my lips. Taking a deep breath I closed my eyes. I opened them, focused on the target and loosed the arrow. It flew dead on target. “Way to go, fire girl.”
“I learnt from the best, warrior boy.”
“Very good both of you, as you get better, Ember, you can light the tip on fire and let it loose.” I could see that Ash was proud of me and Drake was ecstatic that I was doing well. I was just happy that we were in this together. I hit the target straight on twice more. I looked quizzically at Ash and Carmen.
“Isn’t this going to get any harder?” They just shrugged their shoulders. I went to lose another arrow but stopped as the targets began to move around, not quickly but it was hard to tell what they where they were going to move next. Steadily I watched and I found, that just like Carmen when fighting with a sword, they had a particular rhythm, though not easy to spot. Left, left, right, back, spin right, left, up, diagonal left, diagonal right, left, left, right, back, etc. The rhythm was spontaneous and unexpected as well as hard to focus on, but eventually got it. I felt all pairs of eyes on me as I waited for it to move back into range, I counted down the timing I’d figured out. 5…………4…………3…………….2……….1…… and loose. I shot straight on target. I turned to see Drake’s jaw drop. “They have a rhythm” I sent to him in my head. I wondered how far away we could communicate in our heads. I watched Drake’s eyes follow the target, a bead of sweat rolled down his furrowed brow; he was so gorgeous when he was concentrating. Mere seconds passed and he loosed his arrow. I smiled as it hit straight in the middle of the target. I fought the urge to run to him and hi-5.
After every arrow that hit the target, the target would speed up, until by our 2nd last arrow it was a speeding blur, never keeping the same rhythm. If I had been mortal my head would have been spinning. I breathed in and out slowly and deeply, focusing on hitting the target dead centre. I loosed my arrow. I closed my eyes just before it hit, when I opened them, a tear escaped my eyes. I’d missed. I pulled another arrow out of my quiver, still two left, interesting. I concentrated harder this time. Drake of course had already hit his. “Focus on what means the most to you.” I concentrated; right now hitting this target mattered most, proving that I could do this. I breathed in and out, pulled back the string to my lips and loosed my arrow. Once again a tear escaped as I held in a scream. “Don’t think about how much you want to hit it.”
“Well that’s basically what you said.” I bit back.
“Fine, imagine your back on earth, your family are alive, huddled in the kitchen, hiding from an angel about to kill them.” And I did just that, except I was a memory not my imagination listening to Drake. My family was huddled in the kitchen, the angel standing over them. In reality I’d ran through the door too late, now I came through just as the angel had got there. I was holding the bow and arrow in my hands, I lined up the arrow on the limb just as Drake had told me, properly holding the tail in my hand I stretched it back to my mouth and loosed the arrow, straight through the middle of his chest. I’d saved my family. They were still alive. I smiled and ran towards them, but they disappeared and I was standing back on the roof of the training centre, in Drake’s comforting arms, tears cascading down my cheeks.
“Why couldn’t I save them? Why did they have to die? They didn’t deserve that, not Isabelle and not Isaac.” I cried on Drake, cuddling into his warm bare chest, my cheeks flushed as I let my fire flow through me. I felt the tears steam off my cheeks, evaporating into the air. I wouldn’t let anyone see me weak. I buried the sorrow inside me. I’d save that for later. Drake pulled away, looking into my eyes.
“Are you okay?” I nodded.
“I’m fine.” I kissed him on the cheek and faced my last target. It now looked like Drake. I gasped, I looked over at Drake’s target, it was a complete mirror image of me, except everything kind or gentle about it was gone, I looked back at Drake’s clone and it was the same. Burning red eyes, partially pointed features and his wings were darker; he looked murderous and ready to kill. But I couldn’t help seeing the real Drake in him, his lips, his stance, the way he held himself and the way he made me feel even if it was shrouded in a cloud of fear. I could feel Drake’s panic running through my mind. We knew what this was about. If one of us went rogue, we would most likely be faced with having to stop the other and the only way to do that was to kill them, in my case, I may have to kill Drake.
I stopped my eyes flicking to Drake, I wiped my mind clear. Rogue Drake ran towards me in a speeding blur, He knocked me down. I was too slow. I got to my feet and turned around, he was holding a sword in his hand, preparing to drive it through. This is not the real Drake, just shoot him with your arrow before he kills you. A tear ran from my right eye, tracing a river down my cheek. I looked the target straight in the eyes, I raised my bow, bringing the arrow and string to my lips. He stepped forward and ran towards me, I loosed the arrow. It hit him straight were his heart would have been. An expression of pain crossed his face, a look of complete agony. A feeling of loss washed through me and I fell to the ground as the rogue Drake exploded in a cloud of dust. Another explosion of dust came from behind me and I soon felt arms around my shoulders holding me.
I refused to cry I knew it wasn’t real. I turned and buried my face in Drake’s warm muscly chest. He picked me up and put me on my feet. We half walked half carried each other over to Carmen and Ash, their faces caring yet stern. “Are you ready?” Ash asked, they looked like they were anxious for something. I knew this shouldn’t worry me, all we had left was flying and we’d down that a fair bit lately. But I couldn’t help it, after the archery training, I couldn’t help but worry about what was going to happen next.