MoboReader> Fantasy > The Ones Who were Chosen

   Chapter 2 Monster in the Park

The Ones Who were Chosen By Lady Lilium Characters: 61616

Updated: 2018-07-13 12:04


It was late by the time Jacob left the college after attending a revision class. The college was mostly empty now, and Jacob was one of the last to leave. The lecturer gave him a nod as he made his way gradually out of the computer room. His bag heavy with books made it uncomfortable to carry, and he switched it from one hand to the other often.

The corridors were eerily quiet. It was strange to be in the college and see it so empty, it almost felt unnatural. His footsteps echoed in the deserted building, and he felt a tingle down his spine as he passed the art classes, seeing a model of a young boy with a crow's head outside one of the doors. It seemed nothing but a trivial amusement in the day, now when the place was deserted; it stood out like a freakish shadow all in black.

'Creepy' he whispered to himself, averting his gaze.

He thought he was alone as he exited the building, however just as the automatic doors slid shut behind him, Jacob was stopped short. One of the brothers blocked his path. Lucas, he gave Jacob a cold hard stare.

'We need to talk.'

Jacob was used to that tone, mostly from the girls he dated. He heard movement behind him. Glancing back he saw that it was Reuben. The brothers as always, working together.

'So this is where you live.' Jacob absorbed the surroundings critically.

The apartment was small and modest. The first room they entered was the sitting room, bearing only neutral colours. It opened onto the tiny kitchen and the hallway that led to the rest of the apartment. Glass double doors led out onto a pitiful balcony with dying plants, and below was a filthy alleyway filled with rubbish and bad smells.

'It's nice' Jacob said.

'Don't be sardonic' Lucas droned. 'We didn't bring you here for you courtesies and compliments.'

He dumped his bag on the floor and slumped into one of the large sofas, sinking into it. Reuben trailed away into the kitchen, leaving Jacob standing uncomfortably in the middle of the sitting room.

'Sit' Lucas drawled flatly, and Jacob did so. Descending in one of the armchairs and eyeing the room again from this new perspective.

Everything in the room was designed with a modern feel, and everything was neat and tidy.

'A place for everything and everything in its place' Lucas recited, watching Jacob as his eyes rolled around the room. 'That's how our bitch mother likes to put it.' He immediately put his shoes up onto the clean glass coffee table.

Reuben returned to the room a few minutes later carrying three mugs of tea, frowning at his brother's feet.

'Lucas what are you doing?'

'What I want for a change. Now sit down, I don't want a lecture.'

Reuben sat beside his brother on the sofa. Leaning forwards he slid one of the mugs across the table towards Jacob. Jacob stared at the sloshing liquid uncertainly.

'It's not poisoned if that's what you're thinking' Reuben said, drinking from his own mug. 'It's only tea.'

Jacob picked up the mug, drinking from it tentatively. It was sweeter than he was used to, and still piping hot.

'Why did you bring me here?' he asked putting the mug down.

'Because there is something we need to tell you' Lucas replied reclining back into the sofa.

'Oh yeah?' Jacob swirled the contents of the mug. 'How many sugars did you put in here Reuben?'

'Five.'

'Five!'

'Hey' Reuben shrugged, 'we need the sugar rush; we use a lot of energy. Sorry it's just a habit.'

'Energy? Doing what?' Jacob sighed. 'Or would I rather not know? Anyway what was it you wanted to tell me?'

'Earlier today' Lucas said, 'when you burned yourself on that match, we felt it.'

'Felt it?'

'You're a guardian now' Reuben added. 'That means you're one of us.'

A swirl of emotion rose through Jacob, and he thought back to that strange man he had met in the park. His voice was running through his head.

'I, am a guardian, and I pass my powers onto you now.'

'You've heard of guardians too?' Jacob breathed in awe. 'And I thought I was going crazy.'

'We've not just heard of them' Lucas groaned, as if he was already bored with having to explain. 'We are guardians, we've met other guardians. Not many mind you.'

'Why?'

'Do you think that if guardians were that common you wouldn't have met one before now?' Lucas tutted and turned his head away, tapping his foot on the table. A habit of irritation.

'So what happened?' Reuben took over. 'You've not been a guardian for very long obviously. Where did you get your powers?'

Jacob bowed his head, thinking back to that stranger, who had called himself Venom. How strange he had dressed. How strange he had acted.

'I met someone yesterday' Jacob began. 'I've never seen anyone like him before, like he was from another world.'

Reuben stiffened, glancing to his brother beside him. Lucas wore an expression unreadable.

'You said you felt the match burn me' Jacob hurried on, swiftly changing the subject at the brother's reaction. 'What did you mean by that?'

'Guardians can feel other guardians around them to varying degrees. Their pain…strong emotions…When you burnt yourself holding the match, both Reuben and I felt it in our own hands. Like we were holding the match ourselves.'

'Really?'

Lucas seemed unconcerned as he stirred his tea, chasing the end of the spoon around the mug with a fingertip. 'You said you met a guardian yesterday. Where was this?'

'In the park…near here…' Jacob trailed off, gazing out the window. 'He said he passed his powers onto me.'

Reuben grinned slyly. 'How exciting' he sighed. 'I remember the day I first became a guardian, so does Lucas. Right Lucas?'

'Hmm' his brother replied.

'I remember it like it was yesterday' Reuben said. 'I felt weak suddenly, terribly terribly weak, and then strong, like I had never felt before. It was good.'

'Who were the guardians that gave you your powers?' Jacob asked the brothers.

They faltered at this, glancing to one another. Lucas was the one to answer.

'We are…' he was silent in thought for a few moments. 'Different…' he chose, 'than other guardians. We've asked Drake and other guardians we've met before how they first became, and they all say that they were given their powers by another guardian, those who were older and weaker.'

'Drake is a guardian?' Jacob asked incredulous.

'Don't interrupt. The guardians who pass on their powers tend to be handicapped in some way, ' Lucas went on. 'Something that prevents them from being at their best.'

Jacob thought back to the guardian he had met, and remembered his milky white eyes.

'When a guardian doesn't want to be a guardian anymore' Lucas continued, 'they pass their powers onto another. One they think is worthy, someone who matches their character. Someone they've grown fond of. And then they themselves retire.'

'And what does a guardian do exactly?' Jacob asked the older brother.

'The truth is we don't know' Lucas replied reluctantly. 'We've been guardians for many years now, perhaps ten or so. And we live here and carry on with our lives, occasionally meeting others like us who come and go. Drake is the only one who stayed when others have gone. When we were young, we used to believe there was something great for us out there, something big that would happen, some adventure.'

Lucas lifted both his hands before him, staring down at them. He flexed his fingers slowly, and the air between his hands began to glow. From nothing grew a beautiful blue light. Bright and sparkling, it grew larger and more fabulous the more Lucas teased it. 'Like some kid I believed once that there was more to this life, we both did. But in the end, all it came down to was a child's imagination.' He closed his fists, and the light snapped out of existence. 'We keep our magic secret. If anyone other than a guardian were to see this, it would drive them mad. It's like there's some sort of barrier placed upon normal people. No one notices it as long as it's in the corner of their eye, but if they were to look at it directly…well, put it this way. You wouldn't want it to happen. Trust me.'

Reuben leaned forward, speaking to Jacob now in a whisper. 'Our mother once saw-'

'Shhh!' Lucas hissed. 'That's none of his business. Don't you know when to keep your mouth shut?' He balled his fists, gritting his teeth and glaring at the wall away from his brother.

'How are you different from other guardians then?' Jacob asked hastily, ignoring Reuben's discomfort.

'When other guardians we have met gained their powers from older guardians who willingly gave them their magic, people they spoke to and interacted with, we knew no one.' Reuben glanced at his brother. 'My brother and I received our powers, one shortly after the other. On both occasions it happened in the day, with no warning.' Reuben shook his head. 'But we saw no one, no guardian, nothing. It irks me even to this day, but there is nothing either of us can do to solve that mystery, even back when it first happened. It's not like there was anyone we could have asked.'

'I, am a guardian, and I pass my powers onto you now.'

'How many guardians are there then' Jacob asked them. 'And how come I've never seen them before?'

'Were you not listening?' Lucas said breaking his silence. 'Guardians come and go occasionally though they aren't common, and you've never seen them before because you cannot see magic. Unless you're a guardian. Which you now are.'

'So I can use magic?' Jacob said uncertainly. 'Like you?'

'Like both of us.'

'How?'

Lucas cocked his head, considering Jacob. 'You will know when you are ready. Each guardian has specific abilities, specific magic that they can perform. It will become as natural to you as breathing. Trust me. What was the name of the guardian who gave your powers to you?'

'Venom.'

Lucas nodded. 'A good name. Many new guardians take on the name of the one who gave them their magic, and so the name lives on.'

Jacob was silent in thought, hardly daring to believe what was happening to him. 'God this all seems so surreal' he said, putting down his steaming mug. 'I feel like this is all a dream.'

'Imagine my surprise when I fell from my swing and fire shot from my hands' Reuben said. 'And I didn't even burn.'

Jacob lifted the mug again; the steam was hot against his face as he took another sip.

I, am a guardian, and I pass my powers onto you now.'

'He said I was the one.'

'The one he chose to pass on his powers to.' Lucas spoke as if he had heard this all before. Like old gossip.

'But why choose me?'

'Already been told' Lucas sang.

'He probably picked you because your personality was similar to his' Reuben explained, 'or he liked you for another reason. Maybe you resemble someone he cares about. Whatever the reason he was sure of his choice, if a guardian wants to pass on their powers to another, they want to know the person first. He's probably watched you for days.'

'Look' Lucas leant forward putting his mug down on the table. 'It doesn't really matter why he picked you. What's done is done. You're a guardian now.'

'What powers do I have?' Jacob asked.

'Each guardian has different magic' Reuben told him. 'It's like a signature which defines the individual.'

Jacob hummed thoughtfully, biting his lip.

'You are one of us now' Lucas clarified. 'We guardians should stick together.'

'It's strange' Jacob smiled nervously. 'I've never really spoken to you two before. Never had a reason to.'

'Isn't it funny where life takes you eh?' Lucas said sardonically. 'When I was young I wanted to be an archaeologist. I loved dinosaurs.'

'So…' Jacob digressed as he surveyed the apartment again. 'You live here with your mother I presume. What about your father?'

'To say we live with our mother wouldn't be entirely accurate' Lucas told him. 'She's out so much of the time she barely lives here. We don't know where she goes, when she's coming back, or even what she does for work.'

'Probably whoring' Reuben mumbled.

'In fact I think it's fair to say that we own the place' Lucas continued. 'We certainly spend more time here than she does.'

'And as for a father' Reuben added. 'We've never met him. Don't even who he is or even if we have the same father.'

'So…where's your mother now?'

'Don't know' Lucas dismissed. 'She has these bursts of anger sometimes, and for the thousandth time she's walked out on us. Last time she didn't come back for months.'

'So you're here alone?' Jacob asked.

'Are you worried about us?' Lucas questioned with a smirk.

'No.'

'It's better without her anyway.' Lucas stretched his muscles, yawning and clicking his fingers. 'You should probably be going now. We've told you everything we wanted to tell you. You should go before your family begin to worry where you are.'

Once Jacob was gone, Lucas let out a heavy sigh. 'Reuben' he said. 'I think life is about to change for us very soon.'

'I think you're right.'

Reuben stood and groaned at the room. 'We'd better keep an eye out for her in case she comes back when we don't want her to.'

'That bitch…'

Reuben relaxed his body, watching his brother still seated with his feet on the table.

'You're not going to get yourself hurt again are you?' Reuben asked.

Subconsciously Lucas's hand moved to his left arm. She had broken it many years ago when he was younger, defending Reuben over something he had done wrong.

'We're older now' Lucas answered quietly. 'She can't hurt us anymore.'

Outside in one of the parks within the town, was the most unusual group one could have seen, gathered together around a child's climbing frame. There were four of them, and they paid no heed to any of the people around them, who neither saw them, nor heard them. There was a group of teenagers by the swings drinking and smoking, and the occasional passerby late home from work. It was a typical scene at the park, save for this group.

There was a man, a mother, a daughter and an aberrant.

The hour was waning, and with every passing minute, the stars grew brighter, the evening star taking centre stage.

'It's here' the aberrant rasped in his low harsh voice, he whipped his tail in agitation and flexed his mighty wings 'It's very close now.'

There was a sudden uproar of laugher from the swings as one of the boys attempted and failed to do a handstand on the swing itself. The aberrant jerked his head up, snarling at them and their disruption.

'Do you think the others have found it yet?' the mother asked.

The man twirled a strand of his fiery red hair between his fingers.

'Not yet' he replied, 'we would know if it was found. They still don't know yet where it is. But the problem is, neither do we.'

'I wonder who will reach it first' the daughter voiced, passing a hand over the orb she held before her. The sphere glowed; within it were many beautiful colours, though all of them were dark. 'I fear things will not go well.'

The next day

'Hey check out the new girl.'

Lauralie raised her head at the sound of whispering from her classmates, scanning the room briefly, the new girl didn't take long to spot. Lauralie saw the girl sitting two rows behind from her. She was dressed all in black, with medium length black hair. Lauralie found herself thinking the girl to be very pretty, but immediately decided that she didn't like her at all. The way she sat and postured gave Lauralie the feeling that she was very arrogant. The girl rested her chin on steepled fingers, almost sulkily. Her expression was vacant and her eyes were cold.

Lauralie turned back to her desk.

'What's she like?' the whispered conversation continued nearby.

'I don't know. I heard her name is Rhian. She's not from around here, apparently she just moved in recently.'

Lauralie returned her attention back to her work. A picture she had been drawing in pastel of a woman, floating on a lake in a rowing boat with her child. It was shortly afterwards the bell rang, and people started filing out of class. Lauralie dusted her hands off on her jeans, gathering together her pencils and sketch books.

'I'll see you later Christina' she told her friend.

Christina winked cheekily at her, waving as she danced away. Lauralie left the classroom alone once she had packed up her things, swinging her bag over her shoulder and strolling out into the corridor. It was seconds later another one of her friends caught up with her.

'Hey Lauralie!'

She squeaked in shock as her friend pounced on her, jumping from behind and grabbing her shoulders.

'Why does everyone have to frighten me like that all the time?' Lauralie whined.

'Well' her friend Alice said slyly, clinging to her. 'You're so easily startled, it's hard not to make fun of it. You're like a little lamb.' Alice gleamed, looking much like a cougar standing before its prey.

Lauralie hooked her arm though Alice's as they walked together.

'So where are you heading?' Alice asked. 'Do you have another lecture to go to?'

'No I'm finished now.'

'Great' Alice beamed. 'I'm finished too. Actually I was finished ages ago. I wanted to wait for you because me and the others are going over Kirsty's now. Do you want to come?'

'Sure' Lauralie said perking up.

'Great' Alice said again. 'The others are already there. I told them I would wait for you.'

'I know where her house is' Lauralie laughed.

'Yeah but I wanted to walk with you.'

Lauralie squeezed her friends arm tightly. 'You're so good to me Alice.'

'I know right?'

They walked slowly together, heading out of the college grounds.

'Did you hear the word on the street?' Alice asked.

'What word?'

'The brothers are coming to town!'

'Eh?'

'They're well known street dancers, entertainers' Alice rambled on. 'They've been travelling round together for the last year doing their thing and now they're coming home again. They're going to be putting on a show. I hear they're pretty good at it, though I've never seen them myself.' She cast a sideways glance at Lauralie, grinning happily. 'I've heard they're both pretty handsome.'

'If you haven't seen them before how do you know they're any good?' Lauralie asked.

'My little sister is friends with their little sister. She's told me about them. Anyway I was wondering if you wanted to come along to see them. Me and the others are going together, you can bring a friend or two of your own if you wanted. The more the merrier, that's what they say.'

Street dancing? Lauralie thought. Oh please, what a ridiculous thing to do, go around prancing in different towns making a fool of yourself. Dancing is for girls and gays…

Lauralie smiled sweetly at her friend.

'That sounds brilliant, I'd love to come.'

'Great!' Alice beamed squeezing her arm excitedly. 'Who will you bring?'

'I could ask Drake, he might be interested.'

'Drake?' Alice made a comical face. 'Is he your…?'

'Friend' Lauralie finished. 'Just a friend.'

Alice sniffed disdainfully. 'You make me jealous to know that? You have so many boyfriends.'

'They're not my boyfriends' Lauralie scowled.

'Alright, boys that are friends' Alice corrected.

'That's better.'

'Anyway, Kirsty's got a film to watch tonight if you're not expected to be home.'

'That sounds fun' Lauralie replied. 'I wasn't going home tonight anyway.'

It was in the library that Jacob revised now, free from his lectures, he sat now with his friends Josh and Alex.

'Macro. Computer science. A set of instructions that is represented in an abbreviated format. In short' Jacob said.

'Say whaaaa…?' Josh raised an eyebrow.

'It's a pattern that specifies how a certain input sequence should be mapped to a replacement input sequence according to a defined procedure.'

'In English?'

'It carries out a sequence of operations intended by the user….you record a set of actions on the computer' Jacob sighed patiently.

'Oh I see.'

Jacob closed his book, frowning at his friend across the table.

'I'm sure glad at least one of us understands this stuff' Josh huffed. 'I just can't get my head around macros. They're so confusing.'

'Well you'd probably understand it better if you actually listened to the lecturer' Jacob replied.

'I can't help it' Josh argued. 'I just switch off. As soon as anyone mentions the M word I zone out.'

Jacob shook his head.

And you know our lecturer has the most boring voice' Josh went on. 'It's enough to put anyone to sleep.'

'Well at least you're doing better than me' Alex chipped in looking up from his books. It was the first time he had spoken in a while. 'I'm doing ancient history. I can't even remember what we're supposed be doing. Something about the Catiline Conspiracy and a man called Superbus.'

'The Catiline Conspiracy?' Josh said. 'Nothing actually happened. It was a supposed attempt' Josh stressed these words as he spoke. 'To overthrow the roman republic.'

'Wait didn't Superbus live in a different time to Catiline?' Alex asked.

'You should know dumbass' Josh returned, 'you're in my class.'

'So who was this Catiline guy anyway?' Jacob cut in before an argument began.

'He was a roman politician.'

'Wait, did you say Superbus…?' Jacob asked, realising what a strange name it was. He hesitated then, noticing three figures standing just outside the doors of the library watching him, he didn't even hear his friend's response. The three figures moved away.

'Jacob? Are you alright?' Alex glanced around to see what Jacob was looking at, but the three had already gone. 'What are you looking at?'

'What is it?' Josh asked. 'You look…nervous.'

'I'm fine' Jacob lied. He shifted, trying to get back to his work, but found that he could not. 'I've got to go' he said shortly after, rising to his feet.

'Why? Hey wait a minute!'

But Jacob ignored the both of them, heading out of the library and into the beautiful sun. The car park was in view from outside the library, and Jacob could see the three figures waiting for him there.

Lucas, Reuben and Drake. They were all leaning against the wall at the back of the car park; in formation, they all eyed him like hawks.

Jacob felt a great weight descend upon him. The air suddenly felt heavy and his chest tightened. He took a deep breath, taking a step towards them, he began to walk.

Their eyes never left him as he approached them. Behind him standing just outside the library, Josh and Alex now watched. Jacob paused to glance back at them; then turned to face the three again. Lucas pushed himself off the wall and straightening up.

'Welcome aboard' Lucas said seriously.

'Things are going to change for me from now on' Jacob said. 'Aren't they?'

Lucas cocked his head in response, his eyes gleaming.

'You've past the point of no return my friend' Lucas told him.

'I still haven't been able to use magic…but…I feel different since that day.'

'The day you met Venom?' Reuben asked.

Jacob thought of Alex and Josh, wondering how he was going to explain to them what was happening. But he decided then that it didn't matter. He didn't need to explain anything; he couldn't, even if he wanted.

'Your magic will come to you' Lucas assured him. 'When you are ready.'

'How long will it take?'

Lucas shrugged. 'Everyone is different.'

He extended a hand towards Jacob.

Magic Jacob thought. Will this be a gift, or a curse?

Jacob looked down at Lucas' hand, and extended his own. Lucas grasped his forearm tightly, either side of him, Reuben and Drake smiled.

Jacob was led away by the three, as his friends no more, watched.

They headed out of the town, and towards the abandoned hotel where the brothers and Drake so often practiced their magic. But on this day they saw something strange. Something not even the brothers had seen before. All four of them slowed to a stop, staring in disbelief.

It was a black creature, large in size with an entire head that welded into one colossal horn. Its mouth held a neat row of splintered teeth, and it walked on all fours.

They all watched as it walked casually past; its only acknowledgment of them was a brief glance as it continued on its way.

Lucas gasped as he recognised it, suddenly realising what it was. He uttered one word.

'Aberrant.'

'Where are they?' the woman hissed, glancing all around her as if what she feared might appear at any moment.

The man beside turned to her, brushing her cheek with the back of his hand.

'Be calm Li my sweet, they pose no real harm to us.'

'But there are more of them than us' she argued.

'So?' Kreas replied. 'If they appear, we'll kill them.'

'Easier said than done.'

'We can defend our own in a fight' Kreas said stretching. 'As well as they can at least.'

'But what if they find it before us? You know they'll flee as fast as they can back to the king, how do we get it back once the king has it? We would be no match against his men.'

'Well' Kreas drawled, 'we had better make sure we get it before they do.'

He raised his hood, glaring at a passerby.

'I can't wait to get away from here. I don't like this place.'

'Me neither' Li replied. 'The air here is so….polluted.'

'A silly thing to complain about. We're in a busy town' Kreas teased. 'You're just a soft country girl.'

'You be quiet' Li snapped. 'You hate it here too.'

Kreas purred dangerously, his eyes glinting.

'It won't be long now' he told Li. 'It's still in this town; our chase is coming to an end.'

'Then perhaps at last we can rest.'

'Rest?' came a third voice.

The pair glanced towards the man that had spoken. He turned and strode away, the hem of his ankle length white coat lifted on his heels as he marched.

'Kreas, Li, come.'

Kreas obeyed, snarling at a passerby who moved too close. Li fell into the footsteps of the man who commanded her, and together they followed their master, through the streets.

Kreas shoved aside a man who moved too close. The man stumbled, glancing around to see what had pushed him, but finding nothing.

'Control yourself Kreas' the master spoke calmly to him. 'You let your anger get the better of you.'

'Sorry master' Kreas replied. 'I've become short of temper since we came to this town. We've been here for far too long as it is.'

'We've not been here that long' Li argued.

'One minute is by far too long' Kreas snapped. 'I hate this place...as much as you do Li.'

'So you keep saying' the master replied. 'If I hear you say it again, I'll make you wish you hadn't.'

Kreas quickly fell silent.

'Where are you taking us master?' Li asked.

'You will see.'

A short time later and the master had brought them to the edge of the town. He turned to them and spoke.

'I want you to circle the entire town, make sure she is still here as you think. There is something that's keeping it here, and I want to know what.'

'Maybe the others have found it' Li replied.

'If that's the case it would have vanished by now' Kreas argued.

'The others have not found it' the master spoke over them. 'I still sense her magic near, and it is strong. You will circle the entire town to make sure she is still here as I suspect, then you will create a net of magic to trap her, before she has a chance to escape.'

'Sounds like fun' Kreas sneered.

'Just go' the master sighed, waving them away. 'And be quick about it.'

The two bowed their heads obediently, transforming into their beastly selves. They were gone in an instant, running on all fours in opposite directions around the edge of the town.

That night

Rhian heard a disturbance in the darkness outside. It was either very late or very early, she didn't know which, but it was a strange and frightening sound that had brought her so abruptly out of a deep sleep. Rhian tensed with eyes wide open. Frozen for a moment she listened hard. The town so late at night was usually quiet now, even the clubs were closed this early in the week, but there was a noise, something out of place that disrupted the usual silence of the night. She sat up and threw back the duvet, grabbing the metal bar which leant against her bedside table. Stepping lightly she crossed the room, bare feet slapping on the smooth wooden floor. Rhian threw the double doors to the balcony open and let the wind catch her hair. The chill of the night breeze was refreshing, waking her tired mind further. Besides from the chirping of the strange insects of the night; and the shrill noise of the bats as they chased the moths that danced in the streetlights, there was another sound.

Rhian tiled her head, listening hard, the metal bar raised in both her hands.

There!

A screeching howl that echoed through the town, then another one shortly after coming from another direction nearby. There was more than one, likely there were several. Rhian glanced back into her room, realising her parents would not be able to hear the sound. Nor would anyone else who was not a guardian. She turned back towards the night, leaping atop the railings of the balcony with the balance of a gymnast. Jumping to the house immediately next door and running over the tiles, they clattered together as they took her weight. She covered several houses in a matter of minutes, and woke no one. She kept running until she eventually found the source of the disturbance.

They were gathered together in a small group by the side of one of the houses several streets away. Tearing into the rubbish bins and the dumpster and fighting amongst each other like typical scavengers. Several of the bins were tipped over, with the heads of the creatures buried within as they rooted around for anything they could find. Occasionally one more dominant than the others would snap at an omega and push him back with teeth bared.

Rhian sneered at their savagery as she looked down on them from the rooftop; disgusted by the way they fought over meagre scraps thrown away.

What worthless creatures she thought. These the world would be better off without.

'Demon scum' she spoke aloud.

Several of them looked up suddenly at the sound of her voice, growls rising from deep within their throats as they searched for the source. Rhian spun the metal pole in a hand and leapt down from the building. She fell right in the middle of the circle of the creatures, rubbish crunching under her feet as she landed. They scattered, not out of fear but out of surprise, many had bolted but no more than a few feet away. When they realised what they saw was not bigger than themselves, they slunk forwards to challenge the intruder. The only thing these beasts truly feared was

another aberrant bigger than themselves.

These were scrawny and deformed looking beasts, with feet resembling that of a chicken's that were malformed and twisted. Some bore exaggerated spikes of bone that protruded sharply through the skin from the shoulders and spine. Others had upwards pointing horns, long thin tails and skeletal wings. And some had two narrow heads on the end of two long necks, each acting independent of the other. In this one small area were several different species.

One of the two headed aberrants closest to her lifted its head snarling, and was immediately met by a swing from the metal pole. One head was thrown to the side, cheek bones and jaw broken on impact. The other head snapped backwards as Rhian struck it from below, swinging her weapon as if it were a golf club. The aberrant screeched in pain, writhing on the ground, trying desperately to escape her. Another aberrant roared at her in a display meant to intimidate. Rhian translated it as an invitation. Standing with its back legs up on the dumpster and its front legs on the ground Rhian lunged forwards. Stabbing the beast in the chest, the metal pole went right through the creature's thin skin, stopping its heart instantly.

The remaining beasts fled, scrambling away in a fit of raw terror. Aberrants they may be but they were still driven by instinct, and knew when they were beaten. They would rather flee than die.

'Cowards' Rhian spat.

She let the end of the pole slide through her fingers until it touched the ground, blood still dripping from the end. Rhian observed the animals she had killed. Their pupils were white, their skin black, and their manes red.

'Juveniles' Rhian said to herself. 'They don't know how to fight yet.'

The puddle of blood by the head of the first one she struck was rapidly growing, its jaw cocked sideways and the bones in its cheek caved in. The second one was still twitching.

Rhian tapped her foot, and brought the metal pole up to rest on her shoulder.

'I've not seen aberrants for many years; I wonder what they're doing here?'

The next morning (Saturday morning)

The screen of the mobile flashed blue as it vibrated across the bedside table, coming dangerously close to the edge. Eleanor moaned in agitation, slowly waking up from her wonderful dream and feeling regret that she was already forgetting it. She furrowed her brow angrily at the loud and overly happy sound of her ringtone. Rolling over she pushed herself up with a groan, catching the mobile before it fell off the table and landed on the floor. She flipped it open.

'…Hello?'

'Hey Eleanor, how are you?'

'Drake?'

She sat bolt upright, suddenly wide away.

'Drake! It's so good to hear from you, how are you?'

'Are you still in bed?' Drake said incredulous. 'I should have known.'

Eleanor groaned again, turning to look at the clock on her bedroom wall.

'It's only seven thirty' she spoke in her morning voice.

'I was up an hour ago' Drake chirped happily.

'Doing what?'

'Revising.'

'Don't be stupid.'

She rolled back into bed, withdrawing into her blankets like a hermit into its shell.

'Sian and I had a sleep over; we were up late last night watching horror.'

'Oh yeah?' Drake replied. 'Just the sort of thing you want to watch before you go to bed. Did you have any nightmares by any chance?'

'There was this really horrible bit in one where someone drives a lawnmower over someone else's face!' Eleanor said dramatically, ignoring Drake's question.

'That's horrible.'

'That's what I said. There were so many jumpy bits in it, I had to ask Sian to tell me when they were coming up so I wouldn't get scared…because she's seen it before.'

'What's the point in that?' Drake scoffed. 'I thought you watch horror because you like getting scared.'

'No. I watch horror because it's exciting. But it didn't work anyway because Sian kept deliberately forgetting to tell me when the jumpy bits were coming up.'

'So you had fun then?' Drake asked.

'Sure did.'

'Who's that on the phone?' Sian asked yawning as she sat up beside to her. 'Hey you're taking all the blankets! No wonder my arse is cold!'

'It's Drake' Eleanor told her.

'Drake?' Sian rolled over to the other side of the bed, resting with her head on her hands. 'Could you ask him if Lucas is still coming tomorrow?'

'Why don't you ask him yourself?' Eleanor said. 'He's your boyfriend.'

'I can't speak to Lucas at the moment because my phone is broken' Sian sighed. 'And I forgot his number.'

'Fine' Eleanor sighed dramatically. She spoke to Drake again.

'Sian wants to know if Lucas is coming down tomorrow.'

'Yeah, we both are' Drake replied.

Eleanor gave a thumbs up to Sian, who turned away with a smile and went back to sleep, taking most of the blankets with her.

'I'd better go now anyway' Drake said.

'Awww?'

'Sorry babe, I'm just going out, and anyway you should have your breakfast.'

'I suppose, where are you off to then?' Eleanor asked.

'Just going to town, apparently there's going to be a show there today, two street dancing brothers.'

'Cool' Eleanor said perking up. 'Well I hope you have fun.'

'You too' Drake answered. 'Whatever it is you two are doing today.'

'I love you Drake' she smiled.

'I love you too.'

He ended the call.

The girl slowed to a stop, glancing fearfully around her and wondering which direction the danger was going to come from, and which direction she should run to next. Clutching the hem of her white dress, palms sweating now, she noticed an insect hover above her head, it was a dragonfly.

They were very close now, those that hunted her.

The dragonfly darted back and forth quickly, before whizzing away in another direction. The girl followed at a run, barefoot across the skate park and weaving in out of the people who all saw through her, completely oblivious to her presence.

She fled the scene, and moments later, her pursuers appeared.

They met in the centre of the skate park, appearing from different directions.

'Where is she?' the black creature called Kreas hissed, crawling on all fours, red eyes gleaming pupil-less.

'We've lost her' his companion realised with a howl of fury. Li sniffed the concrete feverishly, crouching close to the ground on her long legs. 'That way!' the canine beast cried.

'Stop right there' commanded another voice.

Li growled in acknowledgement at the newcomers, white eyes narrowing at her adversaries. They were freakish, pupil-less, like her companions.

'We will not let you hurt her' the guardian ordered. He stood tall and proud alongside his own companions, a girl with long blue hair, and an aberrant, with a figure shaped like a man, but with black skin and large bat-like wings.

'The longer you stall us the further she runs' Li informed him.

The tall guardian averted his attention, brushing his fingers through his fiery red hair as if in disinterest. He let his hand drop, speaking now to the youngest of the three, the blue haired girl.

'Siren. See if you can find her' he said. 'Don't lose her trail. We're so close now.'

The young guardian clutched tightly the orb she held in her hands. She left her companions side, jogging she headed in the direction the one dressed in white had fled. The winged guardian watched her go silently.

'Indigo' Kreas purred. 'You are missing one in your company.'

The slinking black creature before them chattered happily. His red eyes laughing at them in mockery.

The red haired guardian glanced behind him towards the winged guardian.

'Where is she?' he muttered under his breath.

'She seems to be preoccupied lately' the winged guardian answered in a flat tone.

'With something more important?' Indigo replied exasperated. He turned back to the creatures before him. 'We are evenly matched' he declared.

'Or so it would seem' Li replied smoothly.

'This isn't how it should be' Kreas told them, daring to crawl closer. 'We should be working together.'

'To kill her?' Indigo cried. 'We are trying to protect her.'

'Is that right?' the slinking creature said leering. 'And what do you think the king will do with her if you bring her to him?' he asked the red haired guardian.

'He will keep her safe' Indigo replied.

'Will he now?' Kreas cackled. 'Just ask yourself…do you truly believe that, or do you just want to believe it?'

The winged guardian behind Indigo began to groan, clutching his chest, body hunched over.

'Looks like one of you at least is in no position to fight' Li remarked.

Indigo clenched his fists, jaw tightening.

'Let us not shed blood here' Li went on. 'We don't want to do ourselves an injury' she gleamed sardonically. 'At least not if we can help it. Not yet anyway.'

She ran away then, after Siren and in the same direction the girl in white had fled. Indigo called for them to stop, though his efforts were futile, he knew he was no match for the two of them, not on his own at least.

He gritted his teeth, turning back to his companion. 'Culture. Are you going to be alright?'

'Yes' the aberrant said smiling, as he lowered his body to the ground. 'I just…need to rest a while…' he lay back on the pavement, breathing a deep sigh as he relaxed his muscles. 'Go' he said.

Indigo gave a nod; then ran after the creatures, leaving the aberrant alone in the skate park to rest.

A short pursuit followed that ended in failure, the creatures snarled and howled in frustration, throwing curses and words of hate towards the guardians for delaying them. They turned their tails and ran away. The two creatures returned to their master, who was waiting patiently for them in another part of the town.

'Well?' he said when they appeared.

Kreas began to cackle.

'We saw her, very briefly though. She is here after all, as we thought.'

'And the net?' the master asked. 'You've trapped it here?'

Li growled with the thrill and pleasure, still excited from the chase. Her white pupil-less eyes gleamed.

'The net is complete. She is trapped here. With thanks to the others.'

'Thanks?' the master asked.

'They were creating a net to trap her also' Li replied. 'Like we were.'

'I see' the master said thoughtfully. 'Well it makes sense. We have the same cause after all. It's just too bad we're not working together. Things would be so much easier if we were.'

'They will not be convinced' Kreas said slinking forwards and hissing in frustration.

The master nodded in understanding. 'You've done well Kreas, and Li' he said looking from one to the other.

The two changed then, transforming into their human selves.

Kreas cracked his knuckles, and Li brushed her hair back.

The master grinned cruelly. 'It's become a game then' he said. 'Who will catch her first?'

'Have you checked the drawers?'

Reuben began pulling out everything that was in the drawer, dumping the contents untidily wherever there was space.

'Nothing' Reuben sighed.

'Check in the kitchen.'

Reuben shoved everything messily back into the drawer and shuffled towards the kitchen. Lucas continued to scroll down the page on the laptop, listening to the sound of pots and pans being thrown about and doors banging loudly.

'There's a job going in the bakery' Lucas called to his brother. 'Just down the road, you know the one.'

Reuben popped his head round the door.

'I am not wearing a hairnet.'

Lucas snapped the laptop shut, turning with his arm on the back of the chair.

'We're going to have to get a job soon or else won't be able to pay for anything.'

'The money for this place automatically gets taken out of her bank account every month' Reuben argued.

'I know that' Lucas huffed in irritation. 'But what about food? We can't eat the furniture can we?'

'Good point.' Reuben mused. 'The cupboards are near enough empty….she could have at least done a shop before she left.'

Lucas groaned, rubbing his forehead with a hand. 'Did you find anything?'

'Found this' Reuben produced a coin. 'Two pounds.' He looked to his older brother. 'One pound each? We could go to the shop and buy something nice.'

'Oh how dire our situation has become, alright lets go.'

Reuben tossed the coin in the air and Lucas caught it as he rose from his seat.

'So where's Jacob gone then?' Reuben asked, picking up a hoodie from the back of the chair and putting it on.

'He's on holiday with his parents to visit family. Cousins and grandparents…you know.'

'I wonder what it's like to have a big family' Reuben thought aloud.

'Must be nice' his brother said forlorn.

'Oh well. So what are you going to get?'

'I don't know' Lucas shrugged. 'Lion bar?'

'What are we going to eat later?'

'Let's not worry about that until later comes' Lucas said, grabbing him round the shoulders and walking with him towards the door.

'Aren't we going to lock it?' Reuben asked as they left.

'Why? It's not like there's anything to steal.'

'We could sell the TV if things get really desperate.'

Lucas shrugged again. 'I don't see why not. Sounds like a good idea.' He turned and locked the door behind them.

Once they were outside, it was only a short walk towards the shop where on the way they met Drake and Lauralie.

'Hey look there's Drake and Lauralie' Reuben called as he spotted them approaching.

Lucas groaned as Reuben ran towards them.

'Hey guys!'

'Reuben' Lauralie beamed slowing to a stop. 'It's so good to see you.'

Beside her Drake smirked and gave a nod.

'Where are you two off to?' Reuben asked as Lucas dragging his feet followed his brother.

'There's a show here today' Lauralie smiled. 'We're just going off to see.'

'A show?' Reuben asked.

'There are two brothers performing as street dancers' Drake replied. 'They're supposed to be very good.'

'I've heard about them' Reuben said. 'Never actually seen them before though.'

'Hey why don't you come along with us?' Lauralie volunteered. 'It'll be even more fun with more of us.'

'Maybe some other time' Lucas interjected before Reuben could agree and result in them all being dragged around the town by her.

Lauralie pouted, deflating. Disappointment was written all over her face.

'Lucas you're such a bore sometimes.'

The two glared at each other.

'We could meet you later' Reuben thought aloud suddenly, causing Lucas to wince.

Lucas turned and glared at Reuben now.

'Where is it exactly?' Reuben asked, ignoring his brother.

'In the centre of town' Lauralie said becoming suddenly animated again and bouncing on the balls of her feet. Drake had to steady himself as she used him for support. 'It should be easy enough to find' she smiled. 'Just follow the crowd.'

'Good' Reuben nodded. 'We'll see you there.'

Lucas shrugged.

'I told Sian we'll be there tomorrow' Drake said to Lucas.

'You did? Good.' Lucas suddenly perked up. His stomach growled then.

'Well we'd better go now' Reuben said. 'We'll meet you later ok?'

'Great' Lauralie cried out excitedly. 'Don't be late!'

Drake touched a finger to his forehead and nodded at them, before he was dragged off by Lauralie.

Once they were out of earshot, Lucas spoke to his brother.

'Why did you do that?'

'What?'

'Volunteer to go to this stupid show.'

'You don't want to go?' Reuben asked.

'I don't want to go with her.'

'Don't be like that.' Reuben frowned at Lucas, shaking his head. 'I know she can be annoying sometimes but she's not that bad.'

'Hm.'

'Don't be like that' Reuben said again.

'She just never shuts up.'

Reuben shrugged. 'Stick your fingers in your ears.'

Lucas made a strange face.

'How peculiar would I look walking around doing that?'

Reuben smirked in amusement.

'Come on' Lucas said marching away. 'Let's hurry up and buy some food. I'm starving.'

They walked for a short time before Lucas spoke again.

'We've got to be careful' Lucas told his brother seriously. 'She seems to want to spend a lot of time with us; we have to be careful she doesn't see our magic.'

'She won't.'

'Oh? You seem certain.'

They came to the edge of the pavement to cross the road. Lucas suddenly grabbed Reuben by the sleeve and pulled him sharply back.

The car sped by, and Lucas relaxed his arm, letting go of Reuben.

'How can you be so sure?' Lucas continued their conversation as if nothing had happened.

'Well as long as we're careful, there will be no mistakes.'

'Everybody makes mistakes' Lucas replied. 'I worry sometimes that she'll find out.'

They crossed the road at a quickened pace, careful to avoid the cars. The weekend was always busy here, especially on sunny days like today.

'We have to ensure our mistakes are kept to a minimum' Lucas went on.

'I thought we were doing that.'

'We can never be too careful. Especially around her.' Lucas paused momentarily, taking in the environment. 'Let's go through the skate park.'

'You want to avoid the crowds?'

'I would like to avoid people altogether' Lucas said, stepping forwards. 'But in a town like this and on the weekend it's impossible.'

They changed course and went in the opposite direction to where they were originally heading. It was only a short detour to the shops this way, and the best way to go to avoid most of the people.

The skate park when they reached it was thankfully not too busy. Plastered with thick graffiti on every possible surface, the skate-park was a large one, giving lots of space to the people within. Some people did tricks on the rams and half-pipes, others hung around in groups watching the world around them. Everything was brightly coloured here, including the people who resided here. They wore trashy jeans and bright shirts, some with backwards caps.

The brothers passed a wall; there was an image of a large lidless eye staring unseeing outwards, alongside a psycho rabbit that was devouring heads.

A skater swerved around the brothers as they sauntered through the park, and they watched their step as they walked. It was easy to have an accident in a place like this. The sound of the wheels rolling on the concrete, boards grinding on the rails and the muttering of voices from the groups that had gathered continued as constant noises overlapped each other. Everything should have been normal, but there was something out of the ordinary here today, something that few could see.

Lucas slowed to a stop, eyes sliding across the park.

'What's wrong?' Reuben asked pausing and glancing back at him. '…Lucas?'

Reuben could not see his brother's face from where he stood, but he knew something wasn't right. He walked back to him, following his gaze.

'Hey is that the new girl?'

Lucas didn't reply.

'I heard her name is Rhian.'

Lucas approached her silently, with Reuben slinking behind.

Rhian was kneeling by one of the graffiti covered walls, wearing her typical dark colours. As the brothers approached they saw what it was that had caught her attention, from a distance they had not seen, as she had blocked their view.

Lucas circled around, coming to stand in front of her. Finally Rhian lifted her head, acknowledging them at last. At a glance she seemed weary, exhausted. Her eyes were sunken and her hair was scruffy. It looked as if she hadn't slept. The creature she was kneeling before; was a thing the brothers had never seen in their lives. Lying on his front seemingly unconscious was a creature resembling a human in shape, but with the black skin of an aberrant. With flesh the shade of coal, he had large wings at his back. Leathery and bat-like they were, and bearing huge curled hooks on the joint. His hair, jet black like the rest of him grew down to his shoulders, and he had a long thin tail that ended in a point. His chest was bare, and he wore black wide legged trousers.

Lucas had the strangest thought at that moment.

'Ha!' he barked a laugh. 'He wears black just like you do.'

'What are you implying?' Rhian glared. She rose to a stand. 'I don't even know who you are.'

'And let's keep it that way' Lucas replied.

'Hey, I'm Reuben' Reuben said stepping forward with a smile.

Rhian's upper lip twitched and she crossed her arms in distain.

The figure on the ground lay peacefully as if he were only asleep. His face was young, and his skin was sleek and smooth and flawless.

'You can see him?' Rhian asked them.

'What do you mean?'

'None of the others can see him. I've watched several people walk past, some even glancing this way.'

And it was true. The skaters carried on, seemingly oblivious to the presence of the strange being simply lying in plain sight.

'Wait a minute' Reuben spoke up. 'You're a guardian!'

Rhian scowled at him. 'Is he the smarter of you two?' she asked Lucas.

Lucas began to laugh hysterically. 'Oh come on Reuben don't look so angry' he said to his brother when he calmed.

Rhian circled around the brothers, moving away from the winged being on the floor.

'I saw fighting' Rhian told them. 'There are more of them; I don't know if it's entirely safe here right now.'

'Are you scared?' Lucas asked raising his eyebrows.

'Of course not!' Rhian spat.

Lucas smirked, feeling a strange satisfaction at getting under her skin. Beside him Reuben was positively quivering with excitement.

'There've been aberrants walking around lately' he said. 'Have you seen them?'

'I've fought them' Rhian answered.

'You have skills in fighting?' Reuben asked with interest looking her up and down. 'How nice.'

'I was brought up fighting' Rhian said. 'I saw my first aberrant when I was very young.'

'Why do they appear?' Lucas asked her. 'We've never seen one before...but somehow we know what they are.'

Rhian smirked then, amused by their lack of knowledge. 'You don't know much about being a guardian do you?'

Lucas felt a twinge of annoyance, but he'd be dammed if he let her know by showing it.

'You want to know what attracts them, what draws them out?' she said.

The brothers waited patiently for a response.

'Philosophers stone' Rhian breathed. 'There is one here.'

'Where did you hear that?' Lucas asked slowly, narrowing his eyes.

Rhian stopped circling, turning to face them now.

'I have seen visions of another world, where there are many guardians. Like us. There are Philosophers stones there, its where they originated. But some fled here.'

'Fled?' Lucas asked. 'You mean these things have a mind of their own?'

'Is that your power?' Reuben butt in. 'Seeing this other world?'

'It is one of my powers' she replied curtly.

Reuben began to fumble his words, Lucas knew he was deciding which question to ask first, but in his enthusiasm he came across as a jabbering fool.

Lucas knelt by the black skinned figure on the ground, suddenly noticing how tall he was, at least a head taller than the average man. He also noticed something else.

'Reuben look at this.'

'What is it?'

'These marks' Lucas replied. 'The ground has been scorched.'

'It's on the walls as well' Reuben suddenly noticed.

Rhian watched the brothers sceptically.

Lucas became suddenly rigid.

'We have to get out of here.'

'Why?' Reuben asked, worried by his brother's urgent change of tone. He glanced around nervously. 'Is it safe?'

Rising fast Lucas whipped round, turning on the spot.

'Lucas…' Reuben said in a steady tone, 'Lucas you're scaring me.'

The following events were the start of a life completely new, a life in a different direction, a life as a true guardian.

'This is the first time in my life…' Reuben whispered in awe, head tilted back as the shadow passed over them, 'that I have ever seen one like this.'

'I knew we shouldn't have stayed here' Rhian said backing away. 'I knew it was dangerous.'

The beast cried out in many voices. A high pitched screech, over a moaning noise that sounded almost like the wind. It was a terrible thing to hear, like an agonising cry of pain and despair.

'Aberrant' Rhian whispered.

It came, crawling up and over the wall they had been standing by. Its movement was graceful yet exaggerated. It was a tall creature, strange in appearance with a thin body and very long legs that ended in sharp unforgiving talons. Its neck was shaped like that of a horse, and it had a small oval head, narrow eyes and a thin scraggly mane. The most bizarre thing about this aberrant however, was its mouth. It was long like a tube, with what looked like sharp inward curved teeth at the opening on the end. Running all the way down the tube were creases, like the kind one might find on an umbrella, its mouth was like this.

The aberrant swung its mighty head over them, letting out a prolonged hiss, advancing on them menacingly.

The three backed away quickly. Reuben cast his palms out, summoning flames that wreathed the flesh of his hands. 'Quick use your magic!'

The aberrant moved towards them, following their movement carefully as they backed away further. Its look was far too intelligent for ones liking, it was as if the thing was assessing them. The beast paused and flicked its lizard-like tail, swinging its long mouth from side to side.

'What are you doing?!' Rhian hissed at Reuben. She grabbed him by the arm and jerked him towards her.

The fires went out.

'You can't kill it!' she told him. 'You're not strong enough, it's too big!'

'Who are you to tell me that' he growled, yanking his arm out of her grip. 'You have no idea about my powers.'

Lucas took another step away, concentration fixed on the aberrant, which was advancing again.

'Guys its coming closer…' Lucas informed them, uncertainty lacing his voice.

'Have you ever fought these beasts before' Rhian snapped at Reuben turning on him.

'And you have?' Reuben retorted.

'Are you even listening?' Lucas stepped further away.

'I've been a guardian a lot longer than you have' Rhian went on.

'How the hell would you know something like that?!'

'It's coming!' Lucas called over both of them.

'I know a lot of things you don't' Rhian said balling her fists in fury, ignoring Lucas' cries.

'That's not an answer' Reuben shot back.

'It's good enough!'

'The aberrant is rather close...' Lucas said.

'Then show me your powers' Reuben demanded.

'I am not under your control!' she screeched. She grabbed him again. 'Are you stupid enough to use magic in front of these people?!'

'GUYS!'

The beast opened its mouth and roared.

Their clothes and hair were blown back violently in the sudden gale. Its mouth had opened out into a massive pentagon shape. The long tube of its mouth had opened outwards like a massive umbrella, now this was all they saw, teeth and tongue, and the pink inside of its fleshy mouth in one massive shape.

Reuben saw fast movement out of the corner of his eye, though he didn't acknowledge it. He was fixed to the spot, by awe by fear by shock, he didn't know which.

The aberrant closed its mouth again, shrinking it back into its tubular form.

Reuben realised now that Rhian was not with him, realising the movement out of the corner of his eye must have been her. He spotted her, standing on a half-pipe a safe distance away. There were black wings coming out of her back, feathered they were, like an angels. Reuben simply stared at her dumbfounded, feeling too many emotions to put a label to any of them.

'Reuben!' his brother called.

Reuben shifted his sights back to the creature before him. It hissed again, sensing his weakness and targeting it. The aberrant in one swift movement swung its mighty clawed hand. Its range of attack was far, its long limbs stretched outwards and claws unfurling. In his frozen state Reuben could not react, locked in what was now only pure fear.

He was suddenly shoved aside by his brother, tasting the pavement.

He heard his brother cry out behind him, saw him fall to his knees. Behind the strange mouthed beast, the unconscious guardian was stirring.

Lucas began to shake, there were three deep gashes in his side, and blood spilling down the left side of his body at an alarming rate.

Reuben pushed himself up, wiping his chin with the back of a hand as he did so and feeling blood there. He ran to his brother, falling to his knees.

Lucas' body tensed, his hands were shaking violently as he held his injury, trying in vain to stop the bleeding. The first stage of shock was setting in, and Reuben could see his brother was paling fast. Lucas had never felt pain like it before, but then again, he was still a young guardian.

'Lucas?'

Lucas lifted his head, saying in a trembling voice to Reuben, 'are you alright?'

Reuben didn't answer.

The guardian who had been unconscious mere moments ago had risen, standing now with wings splayed and tail flicking from side to side. He had a menacing dark aura about him. He circled calmly around the aberrant, coming to stand before it.

Please, don't hurt us. Reuben thought as the winged being drew closer.

The stranger stood now between the brothers and the aberrant. In his dark hands he held chakrams. With many great spikes around its circular edges, the metal was painted vividly in black and red. These were weapons he had summoned from the very air itself, weapons that were wreathed in flame. This was his magic.

He charged forwards with all the speed, agility and confidence of one born into war. A true guardian.

The winged stranger threw out both his weapons before him, spinning them in the air they created a wall of fire which blazed and roared fiercely. The aberrant screeched in fear as the fire burned bright, forcing it backwards. It scuttled, like a panicked animal trapped on ice trying get away, tripping over its own exaggerated limbs. It ran. The black skinned stranger released his magic with a sharp intake of breath, weapons vanishing into thin air.

Reuben tore his eyes away and looked to where Rhian had stood not moments before, only to see that she wasn't there.

'She's gone…' Reuben gasped in horror, 'she left us…'

The winged guardian approached the brothers, staring expressionlessly over Lucas. Lucas had fallen on his side still holding himself, curled up and groaning in agony.

'Please don't hurt us' Reuben begged. 'Please help him…'

The black guardian knelt over Lucas, grabbing his arm and forcing it up with a hard grip. All the better to see the wound.

The gashes were deep, and there were three of them. He would surely bleed to death in minutes.

It was lucky in that instance, that the stranger was not only an experienced guardian, but also a healer as well.

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