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Author's note: I wrote this during a really hard time in my life and it probably saved me from doing some pretty dumb things. Thanks for reading!
Wings as strong as your honor,
Eyes as gray as the ashes you protect,
Hair as dark as the night you thrive in.
I woke today, just like any day, at 4:30 in the morning. My other roommates were just blinking the sleep out of their eyes as I got dressed. My black tank top allowed my wings to be free from my back. Yes, I did say wings. I’m a 13 year old angel in training, training for war that is. I belong to a program that trains dark members for war.
When I lived with my dad, he would never stop talking about that stupid war. The war with the light ones. He had gone to negotiate with one of their main leaders, but he was killed. I never cried, not once. It was distilled in me at a young age that showing pain was a weakness and weaknesses led to death. I got sent here to be trained with the top warriors. I was probably the best air fighter here, not including the teachers. We were required to train 9 hours a day and the rest of the time was for us to choose what to do. Most talked to their friends, but since I had no need for friends, I would train harder.
The horn rang out for first breakfast, which meant the weaker members. I walked to the door and peered at the billboard located to the side. I had to find out what training course I was taking this month. I immediately looked at practice flier. No update. I sighed, shaking my head.
I silently walked out as the other trainees sleepily walked toward the fire pit. I wasn’t in first breakfast, so, like any other day, I walked out to the cliff. The sun hadn’t come out yet, but I could still see the moon shining dully at anyone willing enough to look at it. There was a breeze and my black wings quivered in anticipation. I spread them out to their full 12 feet of feather, muscle, and bone. I closed my eyes and sighed as the wind blew through my wings, welcoming me to this wonderland of air.
I fell forward and pulled my wings in contour with my body, gravity pulling me to the ground. I opened my eyes as I opened my wings, causing my body to be jerked violently up. I smiled and glided over to the weeping willow just outside camp. We weren’t allowed to go out of camp boundaries, but being me, I got away with it. Only because I never got caught, not because the trainers favored me to the other members. Even if I won the war, the trainers probably still would have forgotten I existed.
I took refuge in the very center of its swaying canopy. I breathed in the scent of dew on the long grass below and heard water rushing over large boulders in the nearby river. The noise reminded me of when I was flying and the wind blew my hair back. I sighed and waited for the next horn to play. My eyes closed slowly and I relaxed all my muscles, going completely limp. A sudden noise attracted the attention of my ears. My eyes flew open and I silently slipped to the ground. No one should be this close to camp. Then a strange smell hit me. It smelled like a cat. A big one.
I followed the scent to the edge of the river where it disappeared. Must have gone for a swim. I glanced at my black hair and curved figure. So many people said I was beautiful. Was I? The sound of a horn blowing stopped my thoughts. I used all my strength to jump straight up in the air and pump my wings to get up. Mr. Anderson would have yelled at me if he was here. He said that I could damage my wings if I did that. Like I cared. I flew up over the side of the cliff and landed. My hair was all ruffled, so I quickly smoothed it out.
When I walked into the dinning tent, cooks were putting the last plates of food on the tables. I grabbed some bread and walked to my spot. It was just a few hundred feet from the cliff and I could still hear the wind calling to me. I sat down at the base of the tree trunk and gazed at the sun just coming over the mountains. It was beautiful. I was so distracted that I didn’t hear someone standing next to me, which wasn’t like me.
“Can I sit here?”
I jumped at the voice and looked over. He had black hair down to his chin and when he stood in the light I could make out spots. He had gray eyes like mine that made me stare. He wore a white shirt and black pants. “Who are you?” I asked, with a glare.
“I’m Fog.” He spoke, casually.
I just stared. I’ve heard some pretty weird names before, but Fog? Really?
“So can I sit here?” Fog asked again.
I sighed. “Sure, whatever.” He sat. “So who are you?”
“I thought we already went over this, I’m Fog.”
“I know what your name is, but not what you are, if you get my drift.”
"I’m a shape shifter. What about you?”
“That would explain the giant black things coming out of your back.” He motioned with his head, causing his hair to fall over his eyes.
I just nodded and took a bite out of my breakfast. “Can I see them?”
“You don’t even know my name and you’re already asking to see my wings.”I mumbled with a sigh. I stretched them out all the way and Fog looked them up and down. I felt a little self-conscious and I stared at my bread with sudden interest. After a couple seconds I pulled them back in to formal position.
“I wish I had wings.” He said looking into my gray eyes. “Your eyes are really weird. Are you blind?”
“I don’t think so.”
“I’ve never seen anyone with eyes like that.”
"Well, yeah." Fog said with a smile.
"Well, gee thanks. I think I should be going now.” And I started to get up.
“Wait.” I turned. “What’s your name?”
“A secret.” I said flatly.
I sighed and rolled my eyes. “Rain.”
“I like it, it suites you.” Fog spoke, smiling.
“Okay, well. I’m leaving now.” I stood up and without looking back, walked in to camp.
By the time I got to my tent, I had finished my breakfast. I gazed at the practice fliers and saw that they had been updated. Finally.
Paired Flying Practice
My face lit up at the fact that I would spend this whole month flying, but I was still disappointed that it was paired training. The other bad thing was that that creep Fog was in the same class. Oh well, I thought, I can easily get rid of him. Won’t take too long for him to hear the rumors about me. Are you reading this really well? I just wanted to check. Continue. See, people think I went with my father when he had gone to negotiate and killed him. Which is the most stupidest thing I have ever heard, but gossipers will gossip.
I went to the practice field and waited for everyone to come. I saw Fog coming from across the field and sighed.
He stood next to me and spoke. “So, this is flying class?”
“Yes.” I replied.
“What do you guys do?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe you fly.”
“Then what am I doing here? I don’t fly.”
“Wait, what? You don’t fly?”
“What kind of shape shifter are you?”
In a seconds Fog was moving in a very uncomfortable looking way. His body was rippling and in seconds he was a seven foot long black Jaguar. Pieces of his clothing floated around us. My wings quivered. My eyes widened in amazement and I tried to seal my emotions away. “Impressive.” He purred.
A loud voice distracted me. “Trainers,” My least favorite counselor, Edward spoke. “We’re doing partner flying. You may have noticed that not all of you can fly. That’s where the “partners” comes in. You’ve been assigned already, so no need to be picking while you should be listening.” He peered over at a group of girls who stopped talking and blushed. “Alexander and Jacques. Alexandria and Tomas. Isabel and Sophia. Vladimir and Anastasia. And since we have a new apprentice, I think Rain should be partners with Fog.” My jaw dropped. What? I turned to face Fog, who was sitting contently at my side. I sighed and listened to the rest of the lecture. “Fliers, you will be put in harnesses designed to hold your passenger. Soon, we will have you all measured and have harness specially built for you and your partners. Come over here and we will get them set up for you, but remember that you will have to do this in seconds all by yourself in the need of an emergency.”
We all went over and had the harnesses put on. Most of the other fliers had lighter passengers and this would be easier for them. The harness fit on me uncomfortably. There was a strap around my waist that had another strap that went in between my legs and over my shoulders. I’m still not sure how they managed to get Fog strapped in, but he had a harness very similar to a horse harness. When everyone was set, we went over to the cliff and prepared to fly. I stood to the left of Fog and he cowered at the side of the cliff. I laughed to myself. I had tried to fly with a branch strapped to me when I was little and had to do everything in my power not to get dropped to the ground ruthlessly.
The wind blew through my hair and Fog dug his claws into the ground as if that would somehow keep him firmly on it. All of us went at once and most dropped down several hundred feet before steadying themselves. I soared threw the air with great effort. Fog was groaning from the height and I laughed.
“Not so tough now, Kitten.” I laughed once more and then spoke. “I’ve found at least one of your weaknesses. By the way, your enemies shouldn’t know that.”
In my head I heard Fog’s voice clear as day. Since when are you my enemy?
I swore under my breath, he can talk to me through my mind. Great. ”You better not be able to read my mind.”
I could if I wanted to.
“May I remind you who is carrying who.”
No, master. He chuckled.
I dived down and he gasped, his legs stuck out in front of him. I rolled my eyes and continued scaring Fog until Edward called us in.
As soon as I landed, I started unbuckling the straps and let Fog go with a glare. What surprised me was I wasn’t glaring because I wanted to kill him or something, but because I hated that I did like him. If that was even possible for me. He sauntered back to camp for clothes and I went to Magic class. Even if you didn’t have magic in your blood, you could still do simple tricks. I hated it because any time I tried to heal someone they would catch fire or lose their sanity. You could fill a whole stadium of people I had hurt both mentally and physically just by using magic. I was almost to the tree circle when Fog came to running to me.
“Where are you going?” He asked.
“Me, too. I wonder how many classes we have together.”
“Yeah, same here.” I replied dryly, trying to forget the feelings that were forming.
“I’ve never tried magic.”
“Are you any good at it?”
“Does setting people on fire and stealing their sanity for personal use count?”
He stopped walking and stared at me. I gave him a look and took a step back. “What?”
“Nothing.” Fog shook his head.
I sighed and quickly walked over to the tree circle. He matched step with me and asked. “What’s this place called?”
“Weeping Willow Circle.” I smiled. Willows amazed me, the way they could bend easily in the wind as if they belonged there, like me.
“You're really are up with depressing things, aren’t you?”
“How is this depressing?”
“The trees look like they're just mopping around.”
“Whatever.” I walked into the circle and saw Miss Cathers standing in the middle with tables surrounding her on three sides. The first table had knives of all different sizes and shapes. The second had a big empty clear crystal bowl. The third had herbs covering every service. What were we doing?
I went and stood by the tables, examining the herbs. I noticed Sea Salt by the smell, then a clove of garlic, some dried basil, and sage. There were many I didn’t know the name of but recognized. I looked at some small black bead looking things and didn’t realize what they were until Fog picked some up and sneezed. I laughed and walked over to the knives. The blades were sharpened for cutting flesh like butter.
Then it clicked. “Protection spell.”
“That’s what we’re doing. A protection spell.”
“Oh, I’ve already done this.” I looked at him. “What? I’ve had to protect myself before.”
“You said you hadn't." I sighed. "Whatever." And walked over to a willow tree. Class didn’t start for a few minutes, mine as well have some fun. I flew up to perch on a sturdy branch. I loved the view. I sighed and smiled. I looked down at Fog who was talking to Miss Cathers. I couldn’t make out what they were saying so I flew over. Quick as the wind. They didn’t even notice me and I hid behind one of the closer trees.
“He is coming and whether you like it or not, he is going to take her. So you better get her ready. He will be expecting someone great.” I recognized Fog’s voice.
“I will need more time. She is not of age for her magic abilities to show.” Miss Cathers spoke urgently.
“At least a year, maybe a couple months if we’re lucky.”
“Let’s try to make it two months. I don’t think He has much patients left. He is sending spies and they could be here any day.”
“Which is why I’m having them do a protection spell.”
Who were they talking about? Some girl was going to get kidnapped? I heard Fog coming my way and flew into to confines of the tree, where he couldn’t possibly see me unless he came up here. I saw him look where I had been and then walk back to where a big crowd of students were gathering. I shook my head and silently jumped down out of the tree. Knees bent for impact. I felt something hit my side and was sent to the ground.
I didn’t have time to scream because it hit me again. This time in the stomach. The wind was pushed out of me. I got a good look at it. It looked like a large Ferret. It had to be at least eight or nine feet long. Its fur was black as night and could easily hide on the shadows. When it hid behind a tree I jumped up to fly away, but it latched on to my wing. I screamed because it hurt so badly. I tried to shake it off, but it just ripped my wing up more. I almost forgot about the other trainees, until there was screaming. Lots of screaming. I saw a black mass shoot from the top of a tree to the ferret. Fog. It immediately let go of my wing and went after him. I watched as Fog bit down tightly on the Ferret’s skull with huge muscular jaws. The Ferret made struggles for a couple seconds before it went limp in the jaws of the hunter. Fog simply dropped it out of his mouth and went over to me.
I was just standing there in shock. Almost my whole life was spent preparing me for this and I just couldn’t except that it had happened. I slowly looked at my wing and I gasped. I was tattered, feathers were missing, and it was dripping in blood. It stung and a single tear rolled down my cheek. I wiped it away before anyone could see. Fog came over with a look of concern and sniffed my wing. He bumped it with his nose and pain shot up through it. I winced and knew that it had been broken. I blew out my mouth and tried to calm down, my breathing shaky. Fog jumped back up in to the tree and came back a couple seconds later fully dressed and in human form. The bite on my stomach wasn't all that bad, as I stood up.
“Are you okay?” He asked.
I shook my head. All I could think was my wing.
“You need to go to the doctor.”
I nodded and he led me down the path that we had followed to get here. When we finally reached the Aid tent, nurses crowded around me and asked what had happened. Fog told them and he was escorted to a chair sitting at the edge of the tent. I was sent to a bed where they waved some bottled liquid in my face. It reached my nose and filled my head. At first it stung, but then it numbed the pain and I could relax more. My eyelids felt heavy and I gave in. The last thing I saw was a doctor getting another bed pushed next to me, so they could get a better look at my damaged wing.