6. New Things

Once we’d had breakfast, we returned to the room and got some money then went back into the centre of London. Trace said there was a shop that sold weaponry charms for guardians so I could try getting a new one. It wasn’t hidden down a dark alleyway as expected but right in the middle of all the normal shops. I followed Trace in, pulling my hood down further and ensuring that I didn’t look up or look anyone in the eye. He walked up to the woman at the counter. She was dressed in a similar way to how Braeley had been except she did not have the cloak or belt. Trace pulled a small golden disk out of his pocket and showed it to her. It had strange symbols engraved in the metal and a dark red stone in the middle that held flecks of gold when it caught the light. Braeley had had a similar one as I remembered and once I thought about it, so had Aaron. I think that was how he contacted Braeley, Ronan and Uriel.
Once the woman at the counter had inspected the disk, she lead us through to the back of the shop, through a door and down a stair case. It appeared that this was the guardian section. She then nodded to Trace and left us to attend to the shop once again. Trace then spoke. “This is the guardians bit. We need to get you another charm and also a wise stone, I think”.
“Is a wise stone the thing you showed the woman at the counter?”, I asked. I felt quite ignorant but I’d only known about guardians for a couple of days. Trace nodded.
“They are all unique and there should be a specific one that feels right to you or seems more beautiful than all of the others. If you can’t find one here, we can look somewhere else but I would think getting a weapon charm here would be wise. Oh, you can take you hood down now if you like”, he replied. I pulled the cloak’s hood off of my head. It felt nice to take it off and let the cool air in the room hit them.
He showed me where the wise stones were and went to search for a charm for me. I looked at the them all. There were at least a hundred and each one was slightly different. They had been separated into metals and then in colour order of the gems. There was silver, platinum, white gold, rose gold, normal gold, copper and a metal I had not heard of before called iridium. It looked similar to the platinum but slightly more yellow in colour. It was very beautiful and had an interesting name but for some reason,  it didn’t seem to appeal to me. I looked at the other metals and mentally discarded the options of all three gold metals and platinum too. That left silver and copper. The copper had a certain air to it that seemed earthy and more magical but the silver had an ethereal feel to it. I then began looking at the gemstones. In the copper wise stones, I admired the aqua, cobalt, plum and crimson coloured stones but none seemed quite as special as the silver. I must have spent ages looking at them but it didn’t seem long enough for something so important. I kept scanning the display of wise stones, not seeing anything special until I noticed a moonstone gem set in silver. It seemed to glow.
“Trace, I think I’ve found it”, I called. He came right over and I pointed it out to him. He went to get the woman at the counter so we could get it from the display case. They came back quite quickly and as I showed the woman which stone she said, “Wow, what an excellent choice. I always knew that would eventually belong to someone extraordinary”. I wondered what she meant so I just smiled but I realised she may have been referring to my wolf-ish state. We walked to the counter in the guardian section. I put the wise stone down and Trace placed another bow and arrow charm necklace and a shield brooch. I got my purse out of my bag and began taking out money when Trace spoke.
“It’s okay, I’ll get them”, he said. I shook my head.
“No, it’s fine, I’ll pay”, I said.
“No”, he said. “I owe you big time for everything, I’ll get them”.
“If you are so insistent, I’ll get the wise stone and you get the charms”, I answered. I’d looked at the prices already and worked out that the wise stone was more than the charms put together so I didn’t have to owe Trace much but still pleased him. He eventually settled on that.
“Could we try the charms first? Last time they didn’t work on her”, Trace said.
“Yes, that’s fine”, the woman replied. Trace handed me the brooch and I pinned it to my shirt.
“Right. Say ‘protect’, and hopefully it’ll work”, he told me.
“Protect”, I said firmly. Nothing happened. Trace pulled a face.
“Try the archery charm”, Trace followed. He stood behind me and clipped it on at the back. I unpinned the shield and said “Hunt”. Once again, nothing happened.
“Young man, might I talk to you for a second?”, the woman asked. He nodded and followed her further into the shop. I stood for a minute, wondering what to do. I took the necklace off and placed it on the counter. I was hoping Trace was okay but I trusted the woman for some reason. I couldn’t understand why the charms didn’t work. I supposed that was what the woman was talking to Trace about. They came back and the woman allowed me to pay for the wise stone but insisted that I have the charms for free. I declined but she put them in the bag with the wise stone anyway. As we left the shop, the woman called, “If you should ever need help, just come here. Oh, and my name is Alys”.
We walked back to the hotel as it was verging on evening now. As we were walking, I began talking to Trace.
“What was Alys talking to you about earlier?”, I asked. He withdrew his aura and didn’t answer. “Trace?”, I continued.
“It was nothing, just how the charms worked”, he replied. Although I couldn’t see his aura, I knew he was lying. 
“Trace”, I said fairly firmly. I looked at him but he looked away.
“Look, it doesn’t matter, Rosa”, he whispered.
“Trace”, I repeated, louder this time.
“Fine, I’ll tell you as soon as we get back to the room”, he said regretfully.

We walked back to the room in silence. When we got in, I sat on the bed beside Trace. He sighed.
“Right, you know what ‘normal’ people call soulmates? Guardians have a sort of equivalent, I suppose. As it is quite difficult to fight shadows alone, we come in pairs. We call them samesouls. Samesouls aren’t always lovers, they can be simply friends too but more often than not, they end up falling in love. Samesouls can’t perform any magic on each other and any forms of physical magic given from one to another doesn’t work”, he said.
“And, the charms didn’t work and neither did the spell so you think…”. Trace nodded.
“I thought you might have been the first time I met you but I didn’t want to say anything to you because I knew your mother hadn’t told you anything about guardians. I realised when we were in high school how dangerous it can be to find your samesoul so I tried to put you off by being so horrible. I’m sorry for that but I only wanted to protect you”. I didn’t know what to think. I suppose I was glad but I wondered why it was so dangerous too. “Anyway”, Trace continued, “there’s a young guardians meeting this evening and I thought it might be an idea to go. It’s not particularly interesting but you’ll be able to meet a few more people and we’ll go over all the current issues. It’s not far from here so we can walk. Also, at guardian meetings, we go by different names. As a guardian, you’ll need a host of names. You should never give your true name except to those you trust the most”, he said. I wondered why this was but another question sat predominantly in my mind.
“So, is Trace Grindly your real name?”, I asked. He nodded.
“Yes, because the large majority of my life so far has been spent as a ‘normal’ person but at the guardian meetings, I’ve always been known as Dallan. Everybody seems to have an unusual name. You’ll have to think of one before the meeting. You only need a first name as no one pays attention to surnames. Tell me once you’ve thought of one”, he said. “I’m going to go in the shower if that’s okay? Braeley said she was coming round so if you hear the door, it’ll most likely be her”, he said. He walked into the bathroom. I sat for a while trying to choose a name. It had been around ten minutes when I heard someone coming up the stairs. It sounded like Brae so I got ready to open the door. As I’d expected, someone knocked. I checked it was her and then let her in.
“Hey, Rosa”, she said with a smile.
“Hi”, I said. “Are you coming to the meeting?”, I asked.
“Yeah, all of us are but we’re meeting the other boys there. I thought I’d walk with you two so I could help you get ready. Have you chosen a name yet?”.
“Not yet. Can you help?”. She smiled.
“Sure but only you can choose truly. Have you had any ideas yet?”
“Uhm, I was thinking about Iris but it’s a little weird with my… different eyes. Then I thought Raven but it doesn’t really fit me too well. Can you think of anything?”
“Hmmm, can I see your wise stone? We could choose something related to it”, she said. I pulled it out of my pocket carefully and placed it in her palm. She studied it for a few minutes then spoke. “How about Sylvia? Because it sounds like silver and is also very beautiful”. I nodded.
“Sylvia is perfect”, I smiled. “Thanks Brae.” I was still in a curious mood so I asked, “Is Braeley your real name or your guardian name?”
“It’s my real name. I know I hadn’t met you really when we were introduced but I trust Trace and if he trusts you then that was good enough. It’s the same for the others, Aarin, Ronan and Uriel all told you their real names because they trust Trace so much and he trusts us”, she smiled and I smiled back. I suppose Braeley was my best friend now and I was glad. After my mum disappeared I didn’t talk to anyone and ended up pretty much alone.
“Speak of the devil”, Brae said as Trace walked in. We both giggled.
“You look fancy”, I said. He was wearing a crimson shirt that had symbols like on the wise stones embroidered on the pocket in a brighter red shade. He was wearing dark wash jeans and burgundy converse. I realised that Brae was looking well-dressed too.
“We thought we’d go out for tea after the meeting so you can change if you’d like too or stay in what you’re wearing. You look nice already”, he smiled awkwardly. It was weird to see him being nice after being completely the opposite in high school.
“Thanks, you look great too. Right, I think I will change seeing as I’ve got wolf hairs on my dress”, I said. I looked in my bag and looked for something nice. I hadn’t packed any specifically nice clothes for going out because I hadn’t anticipated it when packing. I managed to find a knee length dress with a sweetheart neckline that had white lace as a hem and the rest was a pale green colour so it matched my eyes and cape. I went into the bathroom to change. I studied my appearance in the mirror once I’d put my dress on. I wondered if I could put my hair up in two buns over my wolf ears and not have to wear a cape but as I began pulling my hair up, I realised I no longer had human ears. There was nothing there and I’d look stranger than when wearing my cape so I braided my hair to keep it out of the way. The braid reached my waist and was quite bulky but it felt better than when it was down. I returned to the main room. Aarin, Ronan and Uriel were in the room too. I thought I would’ve heard them come in but I wasn’t bothered enough to investigate why.
“Hey, Rosa”, Uriel said. Ronan followed him with a nod. Aarin was busy talking to Brae.
“Oh, Rose, did you manage to think of a name?”, Trace asked.
“Yes, Braeley thought of one. Sylvia. Oh what’s everyone else’s names? So I know what to call them at the meeting”.
“Mine’s Thalia”, Brae called from across the room. She returned to conversation with her brother.
“Mine’s Sol and Uriel’s is Linden”, said Ronan.
“And of course you know mine. Aarin’s is Iorek”, Trace finished.
“So, Sol, Linden, Iorek, Thalia and Dallan”, I repeated, pointing to each in turn. Trace nodded.
“Right, let’s get going”, he announced.

As we walked, we all split off into our own private conversations. Aarin and Braeley continued their conversation. They were at the back of the group as the pavement was too narrow for us all to walk side by side. Ronan and Uriel stood in front of us, leading the way. They were discussing the meeting so I turned to Trace. I tried to read his expression as his aura was withdrawn but it was too dark to see in the shade of the buildings. A question came to my mind.
“How do you withdraw your aura?”, I asked. He turned to me.
“Well, actually, I’ve never seen yours, you’ve always had it withdrawn but just in case, you have to imagine shields around you. I suppose you’ve never wanted to show it too anyone”
“Oh, okay, thanks. Anything else I should know?”
“Not everyone gets along at the meetings. There are some people that all of us argue with. I mean, I don’t doubt that any of them are good but just because they’re guardians, doesn’t mean they’re nice. I guess you’ll see for yourself when we’re there. Also, I think we should keep quiet that we’re samesouls. Like I said, I don’t get along with everyone and I don’t want for you to be judged because of me”. We stayed quiet for a while. It was a fairly long walk already and I sensed we were only half way there. I supposed taking the tube would’ve been too much of a risk but I didn’t mind walking. After a while, Trace began holding my hand. With my face hidden behind my cape, I smiled. It felt so good to not feel lost anymore.

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