A week passed by. No one ever spoke about Bestial. My training with Ameline was getting more and more challenging as the same dream came to me. My head kept throbbing constantly after the training. I thought better not to tell anyone about this. My father was still not in the town. I was a stranger in this strange world. But the ones who gave me the power to keep learning were my new found friends – Ameline, Ileana and Ocean. Sometimes, Ramin used to join us for the lunch, but he was not much comfortable when Ileana was around. The whole class was afraid of Ileana, then why not Ramin! New subjects were taught every day. This cycle repeated for alternate weeks, each week a new set of subjects. I was enjoying my new life, but something was missing. What? I had no idea. And finally weekend arrived.
“Can you please pass the bowl ?” Ocean asked. We were having lunch at the Mirabile. The food here was just amazing, especially the pastries. They were just splendid. The Mirabile was a smaller in size restaurant but the arrangement was similar to others. Ameline was happy to be here. She wanted to try some new dishes rather than the regular ones at her dad’s restaurant.
“These pastries are really great!” said Ileana. She never said no to ‘sweets’ and ‘desserts’.
“Why aren’t you speaking anything? I am observing you from few days and you look… disturbed.” said Ameline.
“Yes. He never speaks at the room too.” added Ocean, with a mouth full with two pastries.
“It… it’s nothing. Just a minor headache.” I said.
“Are you sure? You seem to have OCD!” said Ileana knocking me with her elbow. “Look at your plate, the pastries are still in perfect shape.”
“What?” I asked. Looking confused.
“Nothing. Ignore it. And finish those.” She paused and bit a chunk out of her cheese pastry and continued, “Anyway, you’re paying the bill.”
I checked my Speculo. I don’t know how but my monetary balance remained unchanged. Perhaps, father kept it up-to-date. The only thing I never lacked here was money. But I must admit that most of the things in Elder city were cheap. “Fine,” I said. Ameline was still sparing a gaze at me. I knew exactly that she was thinking about the training sessions. I was still very naive in resisting the seeker skills. But better than before.
“What’s troubling you?” Ameline asked, while driving. I was sitting on the seat beside her. Ileana and Ocean were fast asleep behind us.
“N-nothing.” I said.
“You know what?”
“You are a bad liar.”
I sighed. “Well, it’s Bestial who occupies most of my thoughts.”
“You shouldn’t worry about him. He won’t do anything to you until you are in Elder.”
“Is he planning to abduct me?”
“Honestly speaking, it seems so.”
I sank back deep into my seat. “He is not taking me anywhere against my will.”
“Now that’s the spirit,” said Ameline.
I looked over my shoulder. And was a bit terrified to see Ileana staring back at me. “What?” I asked her.
“I was asking the same question to you back there, you dork.”
Ameline interrupted before I spoke, “Ileana! What bothers you more – that Advik didn’t answer you or that he answered me.”
“BOTH of you jerks.” Ileana answered.
“Please, don’t start again. I wasn’t lying back then either, I do have a headache.”
“Listen, everyone.” She kicked Ocean and he woke up, startled. “I know that you all still believe that I am a dictator. But I am not. We’re at the brink of a war. We have to believe in each other in the such circumstances. No one else is trustworthy. Now STOP THE CAR.” Ameline stopped the car with a jerk. She got down and said, “Park it in the Staff’s parking space.”
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“None of your business.” She said, without turning back and strode away.
“What was that supposed to mean?” I asked Ameline. Ocean was not able to understand what was going on. Ameline shrugged.
“Father barked at her yesterday.” Ocean said, now fully awake.
“W-why?” I asked turning back to Ocean.
“Because of you.” He spoke with a tone of disappointment.
“ME?” I was surprised by his answer. “H-how? Why?”
“Dad wants her to protect you. Though she doesn’t want to. She doesn’t come to the lunch and dinner with us on her own accord. But because dad has ordered her to do so. She hates you.” He paused. Then started again, “Dad demoted her from the position of Team leader so that she can be with you most of her time.”
I was lost of words. But Ameline spoke, “But she didn’t look that sad today.”
“She is best at hiding her feelings. And thoughts. But she is terribly angry with you, Advik. If you were capable of protecting yourself, all this…” Ocean stopped.
“Why didn’t anyone appoint Dew and Iro as my protector. And wait… what do you mean that I am not capable of protecting myself?”
“Dew and Iro? Are you serious? They are not the protectors of Aeon, they are the protectors of the Brotherhood and Elder city. And as far as it is concerned with you…” He hesitated for a moment but spoke “…you cannot save yourself from Bestial.”
“Can Ileana?” I asked.
“No, but she is a better seeker than you are or any of us. She can spare some time if you run into Bestial someday.” Ocean sighed.
“But… why…” I asked. Ameline didn’t look much shocked by this. This could mean only one thing. “You all know something that I don’t. Don’t you?” I asked.
“Yes, we do.”
“And you didn’t tell me.” I felt anger, nothing else.
“Listen, Advik, Bestial is in the city and he is here for you. We have to protect you.” Ameline said.
“Why didn’t you tell me before?”
“Because Mr. Walder said so.”
“Why?” I asked.
“He got a message from your dad that Bestial is in the city and to protect you from him.” Said Ameline.
“But what this all have to do with Ileana? Why is she is she assigned to protect me?”
“We can’t -” Ameline was interrupted by Ocean.
“I think we should tell him.” Ocean said to Ameline.
“He has the right to know.” said Ocean
“Fine. You tell him.” Said Ameline.
“Tell me what?” I asked.
“That Ileana is not my real sister.” said Ocean.
“Wait… w-what?” I was stunned by this discovery.
“I am not her real brother. Her real brother is – ” he paused and then only one word came out ” – Bestial.”
“H-how can t-this… really?” I was lost for words.
“And Mr. Walder assigned her as your protector because Bestial won’t even think to kill her.” Ameline said.
“She does know about this. And that’s where her premature seeking skills come from. Her family was one of the most powerful families in Elder.” said Ocean.
“Then? W-what happened?”
“They were killed, her parents. Your dad found her and gave her in my family’s care,” said Ocean.
“Bestial killed them.” Ameline answered my doubt.
“He is very cruel being. He beheaded his parents, that bastard.” Ocean’s face turned red. His hands now took the shape of fists.
“W-what? But… but if he can kill his parents, why would he… why would he spare Ileana’s life?” I asked.
“He cannot because siblings with same skills have a repulsion towards the skills of the other. Even if he wants to, he can’t.” said Ameline.
“Everything’s getting more and more complicated for me.” I said.
“Listen, we cannot answer everything.” Ameline said.
“But my dad can.” said Ocean.
“Fine. We go straight to your dad, now. But first I’ll get Ileana back. We can’t leave her out there alone.” I said.
“Okay. I’ll get her.” Ameline was going to get out of the car. But I said no, got down and ran straight in Ileana’s direction.
I was able to see a silhouette just beneath an oak tree, looking towards the sky. There was no light except for the moon, which lit just the upper parts of those tall trees. The whole surrounding was covered in darkness. Till I reached there, I was exhausted. It was her. I tapped her shoulder.
“You know, right?” she asked.
“Yes, I do. And.. and I want to apologize for…” She turned and had a look which was nothing but fear. She stopped, all her movements seized, so did all the movements around me. There were no leaves quivering, no wind blowing, just air as a medium. Time had stopped.
“Finally, we meet.” said a chilling voice behind me. I turned and two eyes were staring at me from the darkness. These were no ordinary eyes. They were red, as blood. And the only person I knew this could belong to was –