As I get back to the kitchen I see the floor is smeared with red. The stains were probably caused by me, since I’m the only one who’s been fumbling about in the woods barefoot. I didn’t exactly watch my step either, and my feet suffered for it. For a second I almost panic. How on earth would I get it cleaned up before Marissa sees this mess? Then I remember I’m not home any more. Somehow I don’t think Caleb is the type to give a beating for dirtying his floors.
“Should’ve told me you were hurt.” He says it without much inflection as he moves past me and enters his room. I didn’t even hear him come down. How does he move so quietly?
“Would you have carried me all the way back, then?” I mutter under my breath. It’s my own fault my feet are hurt. There’s no point in complaining, especially when it doesn’t change the outcome. I make a move to go and sit on one of the chairs, but as I take my first step I suddenly feel lightheaded. Black spots are dancing in the edges of my vision, and I’m pretty sure that if I don’t sit down soon, I’ll fall flat on my face. I take deep breaths and try to grab something for support.
Next thing I know, I’m lying on a bed and there is a curious scent of herbs in the air. It tugs something from my memory, but I can’t remember where I’ve smelled it before. I snuggle deeper under the covers and fall asleep.
Later, when I wake again, I feel completely rested. I stretch my muscles and open my eyes. It’s dark, but there is an odd glow that sheds enough light for me to see that I’m back in the attic. I sit up and realise I’ve been sleeping on a narrow cot that didn’t even exist here earlier. There is also a chest at the foot of the bed. I look around, but I can’t make out where the source of light is. I do, however, feel some kind of vibe in the air. Almost as if something was pulsing around me.
It is magic, girl. Raw magic. The power within you responds to this place. That voice again. I touch the side of my head. Am I really crazy?
“Why do I hear you in my head? What do you want from me?” I whisper hesitantly.
I saved your life. And I want a favour in return. Saved my life? I get an uneasy feeling as I remember those red eyes I saw in the Dark Lake, right before I passed out. And Brian said something about a monster pushing me out of the water. Could it be?
I shiver, even though the air is quite warm here, and push the voice out again. I’ve learned that I can block it if I want to, at least for a while. And I really want it out of my head right now. I’m not sure what I should believe any more. The idea of having someone else in my head is somewhat preferable to actually being a schizophrenic. Then again, who wants someone poking around in their thoughts?
I sigh. Some distraction is in order. Maybe one of those books can get my mind off my problems. As I push the covers aside to get up, I notice that my legs have been bandaged. I’d forgotten they were even hurt. The pain is completely gone.
I take careful steps at first, but everything feels fine and I continue more confidently. I take my time choosing what to read. In the end I take a small volume from a pile that I almost missed. It’s behind a couple of much taller stacks. I take one of the four candles that are neatly placed near the closed trap-door, but I soon realize I don’t have anything to light it with. That’s just my luck.
I go back to the bed and take the small book with me anyway. I scan the room one more time, hoping to see what causes the glow. Maybe I could find a way to make the light a bit brighter.
I open the book from a random page and am surprised to discover that it’s written by hand. This is someone’s journal. Caleb’s? But no, the handwriting is definetly feminine. And I can actually make out the words. I raise my eyes and I think there is more light than before. So strange. I shrug and turn my attention back on the journal.
“I know it was necessary, even essential for the survival of my race. But I fear the Binding may have doomed us all… The coming generations will take the brunt of it, when They emerge once again.”
What’s all this? I better start at the beginning. I turn to the first page and… It reminds me of the stories my mother used to tell me.
“For as long as I remember, we have lived in fear. Living in forests is dangerous, living out in the open is no safer. They do not wish to kill us, but They do not care enough to spare us, either. When the Elfins battle, they are as deadly to us, mere bystanders, as they are to Dragons. And the flying serpents burn everything that lies in their way. They have little to no control over their magic. Sooner or later They will wipe us out. Our only hope is to use Their own magic against them…”