Battles of Azriel
By Danica Peck
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BOOK ONE: LOST WORLDS
A silent, starless night echoed above a simple suburb hosted with small, brick townhouses. The wind blew a cold, harsh breeze through the trees that left the fallen leaves dry. Footsteps broke the silence; she looked around cautiously as if being followed. Her long blonde hair was suspended like silk down past her elbows. It blew playfully in the wind. She wore a teal silk gown which rustled in the leaves at her feet. Beside her walked a companion, slightly shorter with brunette hair falling in loose curls that contrasted brightly against her white and gold gown.
The blonde stepped out onto the street and looked around, seeking her location. The companion stayed on the street corner.
‘Yvette,’ the companion urged, her rosy cheeks flushed from the cold wind. ‘You cannot walk these streets. If we are seen imagine what he will do?’
‘Tatiana, my love,’ whispered the blonde, turning to her companion, her voice gentle like a lullaby yet seductive as a minx. ‘I do not fear Jareth. If this girl is the one, she will be more powerful than he, and she will return him back to his curse to live merely as the wings of the night.’
‘What if she isn’t the one?’ Tatiana whispered, walking silently behind Yvette. ‘She was raised mortal; she will not know our ways.’
‘She is the daughter of Cassandra Atlanta. The power is a part of her. She will adjust and instinct will take over.’
Yvette stopped and turned to look at Tatiana, her face cast in shadows from the night sky. Tatiana, still uncertain of Yvette’s faith, asked, ‘And this child, what is her name?’
Yvette looked away for just a moment. When she looked back her green eyes held complete faith.
‘Her name is Ariella Atlanta.’
It started the same every night: I was standing in a rock pool beneath a waterfall, surrounded by trees. I wore a black silk night gown. I stared at my reflection which didn’t match; in my reflection my night gown was white silk. Behind me, the sound of rushing water soothed the night air. Before me, standing amongst the trees was a man, staring at me, his face hidden within the shadows. I took a step forward to see his features but instead I fell beneath the water’s surface, and a malicious laughter echoed above the surface.
The sound of someone calling me woke me from my sleep. I was gasping for breath. From downstairs I heard my aunt calling my name again and, as I did every morning, I silently thanked her for calling me from my dreams. I dragged myself out of bed and down the stairs to the kitchen.
‘Tea, hon?’ my Aunt asked me without turning around.
‘Thanks Aurora,’ I said as I sat down beside her current boyfriend, William. They’d been together for six months now, and that was a record for her. I thought he may be the one though, because they had been friends for as long as I could remember. He was a doctor, and he was decent looking…for an old guy. He wore crescent moon glasses and had thick, combed back hair. I was still waiting for the day to see him wearing something other than a suit.
‘You over-slept again,’ Aurora said as she sat at the table and handed me a mug of green tea.
‘And? It’s not like I am going to be late for school,’ I said softly.
Aurora looked at me with her deep green eyes and I found myself wondering if we were actually related. Other than our mutual mocha skin we were complete opposites: she had straight brunette hair and I had black curls, and where she had deep green eyes I had ocean blue. I didn’t see our similarities.
‘I worry about you sweetheart,’ Aurora said checking my temperature.
‘So what do you want for your birthday, kiddo?’ William asked.
I glanced over at him and shrugged. It would be my sixteenth birthday in a week and I hadn’t planned anything; my birthday just never really excited me. I reached for the bowl of pitted cherries Aurora had put in the middle of the table; they were my absolute favourite.
‘You don’t want anything?’ Aurora asked, sipping her tea.
‘You could tell me about my parents.’
Aurora’s mug hit the table so hard I was surprised it didn’t break. ‘You know the answer to that.’
I pushed back from the table and stormed up the stairs, slamming my door a little too dramatically. I went to my bedside table and pulled out a photo of my mum, and sat staring at the photo. We had the same blue eyes, but other than that she was identical to Aurora. The only thing I knew about her was her name, Cassandra. I wished I knew more. I didn’t know anything about my father. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t know about them. I had the right.
For a moment I was mesmerised by the photo but shook myself out of it and put it back in the drawer. I glanced at the clock on my bedside table and realised I was going to be late for school. I went to my wardrobe and grabbed a black and cream, abstract-striped maxi-dress and a black belt. Walking into my bathroom I applied some eye make-up and brushed my hair back before leaving my room without a second glance in the mirror.
‘Ariella,’ Aurora called as I got my book bag from the lounge.
‘What?’ I snapped checking all my school books were in my bag and began to walk out the door.
Waiting on the front lawn was my neighbour and best friend, Serena, who looked like an angel standing in the sun. Her long blond curls glowed like a halo, and she had legs that seemingly went on for miles.
‘Wow. You’re pissed,’ Serena said as she started walking in step beside me to school.
‘Don’t ask,’ I said as we continued to walk down the path and away from my house.
We lived in a small town called Mystic. It was surrounded by woods which brought horror movies to mind when I walked home at night. From my bedroom window, beyond the trees, I could see mountains and I always wondered what lay behind them.
Being a small town there was only one high school, which consisted of less than two hundred students. As we entered the school grounds my friend Jordan ran up to us. He was all muscle, tanned with brown hair and hazel eyes you could just melt in.
‘Where’s the fire?’ Serena asked, batting her lashes at Jordan.
‘Jessica has Eva,’ he said without taking his eyes off me.
I pushed passed Jordan and Serena and headed into the school. Jessica was the school bully who had a deep hatred of me and showed it by picking on little, rosy-cheeked Eva. Eva and I been friends since I saved her from Jessica on the first day of high school.
I was walking down the school corridor looking for Eva when I saw a crowd of people. As they saw me they moved aside, allowing me through.
Jessica’s tall, slender figure was squeezed into a skin-tight black dress and she had Eva cornered against the lockers, talking in a voice too soft to hear. I pulled Jessica off Eva and pushed her into the lockers, holding her there.
‘What’s up Atlanta?’ Jessica said as she attempted to squeeze out of my hold.
‘I’ve had an extremely bad morning and don’t want to deal with your a-hole attitude quite this early – now if you would, back off or you’ll wish you never knew me.’
‘I already wish that.’
After she spoke, a spark of electricity flew from me and zapped her. She jumped away.
‘What did you just do?’ she snapped.
I looked at her with no explanation.
‘You’re a freak,’ she snarled before she stormed off. I watched as the crowd dispersed around me, looking over at Eva standing there with her strawberry blond curls and blue playsuit. Her brown eyes whispered a silent thanks.
‘What happened this morning?’ Eva asked as we walked to our English class.
‘Just Aurora being stubborn,’ I whispered as I played with a lock of my hair.
When I entered class I sat at my usual desk in the back corner and, like clockwork, Chantelle sat beside me and asked to borrow my homework. I handed her my notepad and pulled out my textbook. Eva never sat with us; she had her usual table in the front row, ready to learn. As I waited for my notepad I scribbled on my textbook absent-mindedly.
‘That’s cool. I didn’t know you could draw,’ Chantelle said as she handed me back my notepad.
I looked at her as if to ask her what she was talking about but then noticed my textbook, I had drawn the waterfall from my dream and a black cat-like symbol. I shut my textbook and dropped my pen, not trusting myself.
‘Are you okay, Ariella?’ Chantelle asked, looking at me with concern. ‘You’ve been acting weird the past few weeks.’
I nodded. I’m not a very good liar. I had been acting differently because my dreams had become nightmares, and I was going insane trying to decipher them.
As I looked at Chantelle a chill ran down my spine; it sometimes unnerved me how much she looked like Jessica. I suppose, they were cousins. They had the same tall, slender bodies, dark mane of hair and green eyes. Their only major difference was clothes. Where Jessica’s screamed “notice me”, Chantelle dressed in chilled, punk-rocker style.
‘Do you want to hang out after school?’ Chantelle asked me as we left class. I knew she was only asking to make sure I was okay.
‘I’m fine, plus I’m studying with your brother after school. I’ll see you later,’ I said, before disappearing into the crowd.
As I sat on the bleachers watching the boys play football I wondered what my friends would say if I told them what went on in my head. Would they have me committed to a mental institution?
‘A single rose for a beauty with too many thoughts.’
I looked up to find myself staring into another set of green eyes, holding a rose. I smiled as I took the rose from Jay – his hair lighter than his sister’s and his body all muscle – typical, handsome jock.
‘What’s on your mind?’ he asked as he sat down beside me.
‘Aurora and I had a fight because I want to know about my parents,’ I said. ‘I feel like this whole part of me is missing and if I don’t know about my parents how will I ever know what that part is?’
Jay put his arm around me and looked at the ground. ‘You don’t need to know your parents to know who you are. Look at me, my parents are never around and I turned out fine.’
That’s true. I had never met his parents and I had known Chantelle and Jay for years.
He gave me a kiss on the cheek and I cuddled into him.
‘I have to go find my sister but I’ll see you later,’ he said before he got up and walked away.