Armina had shut down and stopped acknowledging our presence after she'd showed off her scars. She had turned to reading one of the spell books she had brought with her and running her hands through her mane of long red hair. In that moment she seemed like a normal girl, well, as normal as they got around here.
Trinity and I felt as if it was time for us to vacate to our room for the night. I opened the door and immediately pushed into the room, easily maneuvering over to my bed. I had a tendency to keep things neat and together whereas Trinity's side of the room constantly looked like a laundry bomb had detonated.
"I can't believe Molly and Daniel didn't notify us before they let that bitch join our group! Don't we at least deserve that much?!" she kicked her clothes basket, spilling its contents all over the place.
I sat down on my bed and opened my laptop, "You need to check yourself before you destroy what's left of your side of the room." I continued to look at the picture of the rock and castle. So this had been the breakout point of the first ever Coven War. Intense.
"You're not angry?" Trinity snapped as she turned on me.
I sighed. This wasn't unusual for Trin. She would direct her anger onto anyone who would accept the invitation of her wrath, but I wasn't such a willing participant. I continued to scroll through the pictures of Armina's home…dwelling…as I addressed her. "There's not much we can do about it, so why complain?"
"Because…because she's a witch!" Trinity snapped as she pushed her palms out towards me. A small puff of purple smoke was released from her palms, but it was barely anything. Her lack of focus made her unable to emit a powerful strike. "You always were such a pacifist," she hissed as she rubbed her wrists in an attempt to get her blood circulating. It didn't really work that way, but a lot of witch hunters had fallen into the habit of doing such things. If anything it wasn't healthy for the vials just below the skin.
A witch hunter is identified by the vials of witch blood they have stored in their wrists. More often than not if the vials are put under too much stress from excessive use of power then they will either crack or shatter. Should they crack you will slowly slip into shock from the poisonous attributes in the blood and die. If they shatter all together you face two options: 1. Dying from shock or 2. Converting into a full blooded witch. Obviously neither were a good option for witch hunters, so we protected our vials with our lives.
I closed my laptop and glared at Trinity. "You need to get over it. Molly and Daniel said that she's here to help us, so why you would think any differently is beyond me. Witch or not she's here to stay."
Trinity came barreling at me again, this time her hands were glowing black to match her rage. "A witch just tried to kill us tonight and you're willing to just bring one into the team—" As she drew closer to me I outstretched my palm and hit her with a beam of light.
"She's here to stay," I snapped as I got to my feet and stared her down from where she sat writhing on the floor.
It wasn't kind of us to use our magic abilities on each other, but sometimes it came to that. Even though we hadn't hit the level of excellence to emit elemental magic it still packed a punch. Enough to keep a human being at bay, but not an elder witch. They could put us down like we were flies on their boot.
Trinity looked up at me with contempt so deep that I had to look away from her. I couldn't say that I wasn't frightened, intimidated, or suspicious, but what could we really do when the order came from on high?
She got to her feet and flopped down onto her bed, "When she screws us all over don't be mad when I say I told you so."
I opened my laptop and looked at the castle and rock again. It was dark. The sort of dark that crept up on you in your nightmares and made you squirm. The sort of dark I had seen in Armina's eyes only a few minutes ago. I wanted to know so much more about her, that would make accepting her easy, but it was clear that she wasn't going to hand out her information like candy.
"You know," I said to Trinity, "there's an address here for the castle that Armina lived in. How much you want to bet there's people there that know a lot about her?"
"I don't care," Trinity snapped as she threw a pillow at me.
I rolled my eyes and looked at the pictures again. I cared. Armina's scars had looked so disgustingly terrible, but I felt like I had to know more, even if it was gritty and violent. She had years of life under her belt and the witches she had encountered must have been great, not to mention the witches she was born from. How was it to be the daughter of the first two witches? Why had she chosen to be neutral? How had she survived all those years of war and devastation?
Just when I was about to write the address down the door opened and Daniel walked through the threshold. Great, the last person who should be walking through our door, well, besides Armina.
"Hey girls," he said in his usual cheery tone, "I just wanted to make sure you met your new teammate!"
"Some of us are having a hard time taking the news, Daniel," I stated quietly as I closed the laptop again.
He scratched the back of his neck and glanced at Trinity who had buried her head in the pillows and was refusing to look at either of us. "This is a great opportunity for all of you. Armina has been around for quite some time—"
"Yeah, she's old, crusty, and ancient," Trinity murmured.
"—and she has a lot of techniques that she could use to help you with your training. I think once you get used to her she'll become one of the girls. Besides she can't really do much harm if she's around you girls, right? You can put her in her place!" As he said this he sat down on Trinity's bed and began to play punch her shoulder.
She slowly sat up, almost like a zombie rising from the dead, and glared at him with the intensity of lion being woken from a nap. "You think this is funny Director? Allow me to remind you that we just got our asses handed to us by a Devil's Witch who barely had to lift a finger to destroy us. You think that the answer to our success lies in one of their kind? You honestly think that she's going to help us and not kill us?!"
Her voice rose to a level that could saturate through the walls forcing me to shush her. "Armina may hear you, then we'll really be dead," I stated with a smirk.
My humor didn't sit well with her. "I don't care if she hears me!" she turned to the wall and began to shout, "You can go back home to your dungeons and dragons now! We don't want you here!"
When I looked at the door, half expecting Armina to appear, I noticed that Daniel was on his way out. His expression told me everything, his disappointment, his concern, but it didn't tell me anything that I wanted to know. I picked up a pillow and chucked it at Trinity causing her head to collide with the wall and her ranting to stop.
"I would like to survive the night," I said to her as I began to research more on my laptop, "so if you could stop being obnoxious that would help tremendously."
Zoe peeked over the edge of her book at her new roommate. She hadn't budged her nose from that spell book in over an hour, but Armina's perception was undeniably keen and she turned to look Zoe directly in the eyes.
"I'm sure that I've been more than gracious this evening, sharing my story with you and the others, but if there is something you want to say get on with it. Your curiosity is obvious, and you are emanating tension from every pore."
Zoe blinked. She hadn't been overly curious about Armina as a person (she'd already researched her extensively), but the amount of knowledge she must have stored in her brain after millennia of reading and experiencing and learning… Zoe's mouth practically watered at the thought of it. So she stared, blank, unsure of how to respond to Armina's black gaze.
Then a wickedly beautiful small crept across Armina's face. She blinked and the darkness was gone from the depth of those purple irises. She sat up and moved towards Zoe's bed.
"What's it like?" she whispered, as she knelt and looked up at her. "What's it like being a Neutralist Witch Hunter? What does it feel like when you attempt your magic? I know you aren't very powerful, but I can change that." She grabbed Zoe's wrists. She'd be so much easier to train if she were a full-blooded witch and not a weak, useless Hunter...
She paused; a faint flick of Devil's magic had just been emitted next door. One could hardly even call it a flick; it was more like a, tuft, a cloud…a puff. Armina nearly sneered to herself, speaking of useless Hunters, Trinity was getting agitated.
She started to turn her attention back to Zoe, when suddenly her brain was buzzing, a thin trickle of Devil's magic was followed by a substantial lull of light magic, and then there was nothing. Armina very nearly laughed, a petty lovers quarrel seemed to have transpired in the next room, with cool-headed Joan coming out the victor.
She drew her attention back to Zoe's delicate vulnerable wrists. Everything in time, she thought, and she released her hands. "I can train all of you, make you a real team. I can teach you new techniques and skills so that you can take down any witch you come against. I already know that you have the ability to strategize; I can give you the power to back that up."
Through the wall Trin's voice could be heard, it was muffled, like she was yelling underwater; but even Zoe could make out what she'd said. "We don't want you here!"
Zoe was mortified, she glanced at Armina, expecting to see rage boiling over and that red mane a mass of burning flame, but that beautiful smile hadn't left her face and she continued on as though nothing had happened. "I'm here to help you Zoe. That's why your parents brought me here." The seal on the floor shimmered, and her eyes flicked to the door. "Speaking of which."
Daniel opened the door without a knock, and without hesitation or delay proceeded to get on the nerves of everyone in the room.
"Sooooooooooo, how are you two roomies getting along?! Everything good? Armina, Zoe isn't boring you with all her book speak, is she? She's one smart cookie, but sometimes she can go on and on if you get her talking about a subject that she likes. Honestly, I've never seen anything like it; she's great at public speaking because of it, just goes on and on and on and before anyone knows it there's an hour gone. I wish I knew where that came from, I mean she gets her smarts from me but the talking must be part of her mother's genes."
Armina stared at this ridiculous man. How could one person utter so much nonsense without taking a breath? She moved over to her bed and started to speak. "Honestly Director, Zoe has been so accommodating. Your daughter definitely has a diplomatic streak befitting the daughter of the Hunter Association's directors. I'm sure you're quite proud of her…" Armina continued with her useless chatter to sate the appetite of the Director, but turned her attention to the small seal she was forming under Joan's bed.
About the size of a quarter, the seal burned a dull orange then blackened the hardwood. It would allow Armina to easily hear all conversations that took place next door, without the muffling effect of a foot of drywall.
She wanted to know every word uttered, every weakness shared, and every story told behind closed doors. She needed to control this team from the inside out, which wasn't much of a challenge, but she'd use every shred of an advantage that she could get. The seal didn't take long to form, especially since it was her second one of the night; although it had been a shame to ruin the underside of that beautiful mahogany desk in the Director's office. Armina wasn't going to allow herself to worry about it too much. She needed complete control not only of Joan's team, but of the society as a whole, consciously or not they would do her bidding, and after all if knowledge was power, then by that same logic, omniscience was her key to omnipotence.