I freeze in place. The first word that goes through my mind is DEMON! I fight down the urge to immediately pull out my dagger and stab the beast. There are way too many people around for that. The only thing that I hope is that the demon does the same. My mind runs a million miles an hour as I figure out what it might be and what I should do.
I know it must be a Nigrum, or at least something like that. Nigrum, also known as Black Eyed Demons, are the only ones that look like a human. The only thing different about them is their eyes, they are as black as night. They can disguise it as long as they aren't using much of their energy. They are extremely fast beings and put up quite a fight.
I turn around to face whatever it is. The first thing I see is a head of bright red hair. "Claire," I mutter under my breath. She is standing, determined, and in a relaxed stance. But, she would be ready to spring to action if the moment calls for it. I then say much louder, "what are you."
Her eyes go wide, as if shocked she was right. "I am a Prae."
I scan her up and down. The thing is, I fully believe her. But just in case, "prove it."
She raises her hand up and I automatically brace myself for a fight. Then, she snaps her fingers and a flame appears, hovering over her palm. She closes her hand over the flame and it disappears. I should've know she would be the protector of the fire stone. The red stone on her gold bracelet must be the fire nagaba bead.
"Your turn," she says. I stand more relaxed, trusting my gut that she won't do anything.
I raise my arm and pull a ball of water out of the atmosphere. It swirls in my hand, not in a perfect circle. I then send it back to the atmosphere.
"Oh my god," Claire sits down on the pavement and leans against my car. She closes her eyes and says, "you're another Prae. I never thought I would even see another one in my lifetime."
I sit down next to her. "Me neither. At least, not until I moved here. I was looking for you actually."
Her eyes fly open and she looks at me, "your mother told you about me?"
"Well...no. She told me how she used to work with your mother a long time ago. But, she wouldn't tell me your name, what you looked like, what stone you're a protector of, even your freaking gender. And it wasn't like she ever described your mother so it wasn't like i could go off of that."
"Damn." She says, lost for words.
"How did you know I was another Prae? I mean, I had my suspicions about you but I wasn't sure enough to confront you," I ask, very curious.
"Unlike your mother, mine told me all about you. So when I first heard your last name when Mr. Killa was taking attendance, I knew. Of course, I wanted to be totally sure before I confronted you. The moment you asked me about my bracelets in my a million in one, I knew you were one." She says fiddling with her bracelet. "Also, you don't have any siblings."
Praes are usually only children since the nagaba bead can only be passed down to one child. In the past there have been wars fought to who will have control of the bead, tearing cities and families apart. Unless both parents are Prae and need to pass down two beads, they will only have one child. Mostly to avoid a tragedy such as that.
"I guess I was sort of obvious," I laugh. I then get up and stick my hand out to help Claire up as well. She takes it and she stands. I then notice she is only a few inches shorter than I am. "You should come over to my house," I decide. "My mom will want to meet you. Your house is right by mine anyways."
"Sure," she says and we hop into my car.
The first few minutes we ride in silence. Taking everything in. I feel as if the weight of the information is sitting on top of us. Shouldn't this has relieved the burden? It only feels as if this is only the start of something much bigger.
"How did you do that," Claire asks suddenly. "Pull the water out of thin air?"
"I just pulled the water out of the atmosphere," I say modestly.
"That is actually so sick. That must have taken a lot of practice."
"Yeah, I wasn't able to do it until a few years ago. But, it isn't like I get a lot of water out of it. Only a bit. I usually need a better source. What about you with the flame?"
"Friction. I just need to snap my fingers," she snaps to demonstrate. "It isn't all for show, you know."
"Wow," is all I could say.
Claire shifts in her seat so she is facing me more. "So, what else can you do?"
"Oh, um," I think for a moment. I never really got to brag about my successes of controlling water. "Well, I can turn water into ice and visa versa. I can pretty much melt snow. I can't really turn water into snow or control it that well. It is almost like a different element. I couldn't control ice all that well until last year. And I can pull water out of almost anything. Trees, the grass, the dirt, even animals if it was absolutely necessary."
"What happens if you do that?"
It's an innocent question, but one that bothers me. "They die."
The weight bears down more heavily. "Could you do that to a human?" Claire asks in a small voice.
"I hope I never have to find out," is all I say.
The weight in the car feels like it is crushing me from every angle. I start to feel claustrophobic and extremely uncomfortable. "What about you," I ask quickly to stop from thinking about my deadly abilities.
"Fire doesn't burn me. Ash doesn't affect me either. So, I could walk through a fire and the only thing that will happen is that my clothes will burn up. I can control the temperature of flames. With the change in temperature I can control the brightness. I can control heat. The heat of a room as well as body temperature. I'm working on controlling lightning."
"Lightning?" I ask incredulous. "You would be able to do that?"
"Yeah, hopefully soon." There is a short silence before Claire says, "can you breath under water and stuff."
I smile, "yeah. I basically take out the oxygen from the water and am able to breath. I can see clearly too. It's pretty awesome actually."
"Can you talk to fish?" she asks excitedly.
I laugh, "I wish. That would be so awesome!"
That's when we pull into my driveway. I quickly exit the vehicle and wait for Claire to meet me by the front door. My heart is beating wildly. I'm nervous to present her to my mom.
We walk inside and I call for my mom. "Mom! I brought a friend over that I met from school today!"
"I'm in the kitchen!" My mother calls back to me.
I see my mother sitting at the counter looking at her laptop with a cup of tea between her hands. Her light brown hair falls beautifully around her face. Her blue eyes deeply focused on whatever she is reading on the screen. Her sun-kissed skin makes her probably one of the most beautiful people I know. The only flaws she carries are the wrinkles that are barely present under her eyes and forehead.
"Mom, I brought a friend over," I repeat.
"Oh, how nice. And it's only the first day." She finally looks up and I know that if she was carrying the tea it would be shattered on the floor. My mom begins to stand, forgetting her tea and whatever she was looking at on her computer screen. "Marissa?"
I look back at Claire, I can't tell what she is thinking by her expression. "Uh, no. That's my mother. Marissa Bright. I'm Claire. Uh, her daughter."
My mom walks over to her, examining her. "You look exactly like her."
"I get that a lot," Claire lets out a small, slightly awkward laugh.
"She gave it to you, to protect, didn't she?" My mom asks. I immediately know she is talking about the nagaba bead. I know that Claire understands as well because she lifts her wrist and shows my mother the bracelet.
"Wow," my mother breaths. Then she seems to snap out of her little daze. "Come sit. We should talk."
We all sit at the counter. My mother sits back in her spot and wraps her hands around her mug.
The silence is deafening at first. No one is sure of what to say. I began playing with my necklace nervously and stared at the mug between my mother's hands. This was all too weird. Not to mention uncomfortable.
"Well," my mother begins. "I guess this is a good time to swap information." When Claire and I both swap a questioning glance, my mother says, "I mean where the demons would usually show up, the stats about the Alan and any others, where you suspect any other Praes are. Almost anything you think would be helpful for us to know."
I turn my attention towards Claire. "Right...Well it hasn't been busy since the end of school last year. It is quite strange actually, there has never been so little demon activity. It used to be that most of the activity would happen at nightfall around the forest, especially on new moon nights where it is darkest. But now, any activity that does happen is extremely random. Even happens during the day. You would assume that it would be something to be happy about, since their are less attacks and such, but I have a very bad feeling about it."
My mother nods her head in understanding. "I've been getting that vibe ever since we moved here. I think that's why it is extremely important we find the other Prae that might be residing here or in the towns surrounding us."
"I've had my suspicions," Claire says. "I am certain there is a protector of the Earth stone here. There are places where the ground would be upturned and trees and plants deformed where it isn't possible for a normal person to do."
"Do you think there is only one Prae here, then?" I ask, curious."
"Honestly...no. Evidence from any other elements would be hard to detect but I have a strong feeling there is at least two people here in this very town."
"You must trust your feelings," my mother says suddenly. "Our instincts are stronger and more reliable than those of humans, If you have a feeling, it is almost certain to be correct."
"Okay," I start. "So, we know there are at least two Praes here. But, how do we find them?"
"The same way you found Claire," my mother answers simply taking a sip from her tea. Claire and I both look at each other. We both know that finding each other was mostly luck. "I know what you are thinking." Our heads snap back to my mother. "You two will find the others. I told Chris once that we are connected in more ways than one. If you trust your instincts, you will find them."
My mother invited Claire to stay for dinner but she had to respectfully decline. She was supposed to be home right after school to train but was instead over two hours late. My mom let me off the hook for training that day since as a sort of 'reward'. But she was extremely clear in letting me know that I was starting right back up again the next day. She told Claire to ask her mother if they could both come over tomorrow so Claire and I could start training together. My mom wants us to know each other's strengths and weaknesses so we can help each other in battle.
It was extremely hard to wake up for school the next day. I couldn't fall asleep the night before because my mind was in overdrive thinking about the other Praes and the mysterious drop in demon activity. So when I went to pick out my outfit, I ended up just grabbing the first things I saw. Which ended up being my cute short sleeve white shirt and jean shorts. I know I will probably start wearing t-shirts within the next few weeks.
I parked my car in the same area I did the day before and made my way inside. I went in much earlier today hoping I would catch up with Claire before math begins. I wanted to know if she was coming over after school. I also wanted to start trying to narrow down who the other Praes might be. This mystery was in fact very exciting. To my luck, I saw a head of fiery hair walking towards our math classroom.
"Hey, Claire!" She stops and waits for me to catch up. "Is you and your mom coming after school?"
"Yeah. My mother was really excited to hear about you. So was my dad, but since he isn't an actually Prae or anything he won't be joining us."
"Oh, well, I can give you a ride after school so you don't have to take the bus," I offer.
"That would be great," she says while we walk into our classroom and sit beside each other.
"Okay, so I think we should first narrow down the people who wear a piece of jewelery constantly," I whisper to Claire.
"I was thinking the same thing," she says while looks around the room. "You just have to have a good eye because they might be hiding it under their shirt or something."
I nod in agreement just as Audrey walks in and sits in front of me. "It seems as if you two have become quick friends," she says cheerily. I'm not sure if I can detect a hint of jealousy in her voice or if it's just my imagination.
"Yeah, I was able to give her a ride home last night. She lives closer to me than I thought," I muse.
Claire agrees, "I can walk to her house."
"Also, our mom's apparently knew each other when they went to high school. Such a coincidence huh." I decide to tell Audrey this so she doesn't think it's weird that we will be at each other's houses all the time. I also don't want her to get hurt thinking we are leaving her out.
"No way," Audrey says, seemingly a bit more upbeat. "That is such a huge coincidence."
"Yeah, we had no idea until yesterday," Claire plays a long.
That is when the bell rings signaling the start of class and Mr. Killa begins teaching.
"Anyone specific?" I ask Claire once we finally get out of the busy lunchroom and begin our walk to science.
"Nothing for sure. I mean, we can't really be sure of anyone because we would have to watch them for a few days. It could just be a coincidence that someone might have a piece of jewelry with a stone attached to it. Unless they wear it all of the time."
I nod in agreement, pondering silently. "I just hope it's a guy. Girls wear jewelry all the time, it would be so much easier."
"Yeah," Claire agrees when we walk into the classroom and take our seats.
Claire and I scan the room, hoping to find someone with a big stone hanging from their neck. That is when my eyes find Trent. Just the sight of him sends chills up my spine, the good kind. As I continuously stare at him, I notice he has a string tied around his neck.
"What is the most common form of jewelry are the stones usually in?" I ask suddenly.
"Uhm...I know my mother mentioned this to me once," Claire ponders for a minute as my eyes are locked on Trent. "I'm pretty sure it's a necklace. Especially since it would look most natural on men and women. Though, it can be in any form you wish. I know my mother made it into a bracelet when the bead was passed down to her. I liked it this way so I didn't change it. I heard it can also be in the form of rings, which was more common back when. I think you can even just keep it as a plain stone and carry it in your pocket but you could lose that easily."
"Okay, because Trent has a necklace on but whatever it is is hiding under his shirt." I finally turn to the red head, "have you ever noticed him with a necklace?"
Claire thinks for a minute before answering with, "I'm not positive. But it is worth investigating."
I not in agreement just as the teacher walks in. I look back at Trent and, as if he felt my gaze, turns back to find my eyes. He gives me a slight smile that causes my stomach to flip.
With the promise to meet by my car after school, Claire and I separate to sit through the torture of our next classes. At least, I know my class will be torture since I am sitting in front of Adam. I walk into the room to see that he is already there laughing with Tyler. Well, the jerk laughs. It seems as if he isn't totally devoid of emotion.
"Hey, how has your day been?" Tyler asks me as I sit in my chair.
I raise an eyebrow. "Fine." Why is the jerk's friend being nice to me?
"That's cool." The conversation ends with no fuel to keep it going. There is a slight awkward silence until he asks, "do you play any sports?"
I look over to Adam, to see if this is going to end with my humiliation. But it seems that he wants nothing to do with this conversation. He is turned slightly away from the both of us and is greatly immersed in his phone.
I decide that this conversation is harmless and if anything, will bother Adam that one of his friends is being nice to me. So I respond honestly (or at least as honestly as I can), "I used to swim a few years back but I stopped. So now I just run in my spare time."
I see Tyler glance quickly towards Adam. "Why did you stop?"
"Too rough for you to handle?" Adam mocks while finally pulling his gaze from his phone to look at me. His green eyes catch me off guard.
"No," I say slowly. "It just took up too much of my time." In actuality, my mom made me quit so I could have more time to train. I loved swimming and miss the sport a lot. And if anyone could handle a sport like swimming, it was me. Not just because I was the water stone protector.
"It's fine," Tyler obviously trying the quell the fire between me and Adam. "Not a lot of people are good at swimming."
I turn my fiery gaze towards Tyler, so much for being friendly. "Nice of you to assume. I was quite good actually." Of course they would jump to the conclusion that I was bad. Well, I was far from it "I didn't realize you two swam."
"Swim," Adam corrects me. "We didn't quit."
I roll my eyes and mutter "whatever" while turning back forward in my seat.
"Why don't you start again?" Tyler asks me.
"We do have a pretty good team," Adam smirks.
I turn back toward Tyler, blatantly ignoring Adam. "Like I said, it took up too much of my time. If I could, I would."
"Well, you should come to our meet on Friday," Adam leans back in his chair.
I roll my eyes again, "I have better things to do than watch you flounder in the water."
"Would you change your mind if you knew Trent will be swimming," Adam nods his head in the direction of Trent.
I give Adam the biggest death glare I could muster, but it's kind of hard when you can feel your face flushing. A satisfied smile grows onto Adam's face. "Like I said, I have better things to do."
The teacher walks in, saving me from further humiliation.