My spine was completely stiff and my body refused to move. I commanded my fingers to twitch but the door handle was gripping them too tightly. Only my eyes were fixed to their abrupt position, catching the sight of giant dark feathers fluttering down to the earth. Suddenly I forced myself to spin around, not making a sound. I wanted to scream, to gasp but all I could do was stare towards this new danger. It was a man, presented before me with wings spreading from his back.
From the exterior of this man, he appeared to be quite odd yet strangely peaceful. I slowly examined him, seeing how unique he really was. The first thing I noticed beyond his wings was the extension of his hair. His hair was extremely lengthy, black with red-brown highlights; he wore it down with only the very end tied, some thicker bang-like hairs sticking out near his oval face. His eyes were somewhat supernatural, being white with only parentheses for pupils. Beneath his small nose were sharp exposed teeth poking from his lip. He wore a knee-length white jacket with pockets in the sides, a tuxedo shirt colored black underneath and white pants. Flowing close to his clothing was a large red scarf that was tied several times around his neck. In one hand was the handle of a terribly sharp scythe, the end of the blade extending nearly all the way to the ground.
He slowly landed upon the concrete, his black and shiny leather shoes making a small clacking noise. I just now noticed he had a small bundle in his left arm, it was squirming slightly.
"Who are you
?" I managed to ask in a whispery tone, after watching the package he held for a few moments.
His slightly pointed ears flickered slowly at my question, drinking in my image in the dark night. His wings folded against his back and drooped toward the earth much like a trench coat. "Are you Elysia Rogers?" When he spoke I noticed a thick Irish accent in his voice but it was clear enough to where I understood him.
sir." I told slowly and calmly, trying not to offend this new spirit. He didn't seem like he would be the type to attack, but I recalled the wisdom of my father: one should never trust a man with a weapon. I watched as the hair drooped and flopped with every move he made. He pointed at his chest proudly, and I watched amazed as the scythe continued to stand upright without his guidance. "I am Bram, a major Messenger of the Spirit World. I have come here, seeking you."
?" I questioned with slim annoyance and then it all came back to me, "Oh yeah. You got that information from Forg." I gave him another glance, "So you're the famous Bram?"
"Famous?" He asked, "Maybe historical but famous no. I've trained a many in my lifetime, I've been through things you could never imagine and I hope you never experience." The package squirmed and a small noise came from it. I felt a strange maternal sensation pitting in my stomach, recognizing the sound to be a baby's babble. Bram carefully cradled it and gave a fatherly glance. He urged me to come forward with a finger and I followed, seeing a small baby boy within the many folds of the blanket. He was so gorgeous, having soft skin of caramel and dark silky hair lined upon his nearly bald scalp. "Is he your son?"
he is. This is Jeremy
Aura needed some rest today so I took him off her hands for a while. Besides the point, the earlier he learns to fly, the better." He chuckled slightly, moving a few hairs on his son's head. "Hell when she was pregnant with him I wanted her to soar but it was too much weight."
"What does your wife look like?"
"She's an angel..." He chuckled slightly, kissing his son's forehead. "He looks so much like her. But you'll have to see for yourself. There are simply no words to describe Aura
she's all together perfect."
There was this warmth between us as our eyes made contact. I could see the pain and torture he'd been through but the love and hope this man had within his soul. He slowly rocked his son and then glanced to me with a serious gaze. "I'm getting off topic. What I have come here for is very important. I am assigning you to a position in our society. If you really truly agree to this pact, you will forever change your way of life. But if you do not, you can continue going on as you are."
A choice between two hardships was tough enough to think about. But trying to overcome one and have guilt about the other is what made this entire choice so difficult. He chuckled seeing my confused expression, holding my chin up with his gloved hands. "Do not worry yourself so much. The transition is quite natural and since you have a history of Hunters in your family, it'll be very easy for you. You got my letter correct?"
I gave a smile, staring into his eyes. "Yes sir."
"Good. Though you won't need it now, I am here for you. Have you come to a decision yet?" There was such a strong flare inside that I continued to look towards them. I could not tear away from his unblinking gaze, seeing a fuzzy history within him. It was obvious that he spoke the truth about his life, it was observant in both his clothes and his hair. He gave a tiny slouch, rocking his child.
There was a sharp flow of warmth in my head. Things became blurred; my mind was spinning out of control with thoughts. Just as my heart began to burn I looked at him directly and nodded, "Yes Bram
I will accept a position into the society of Spirit Hunters."
"And I didn't even have to persuade you
" He told, cocking his head with a tone of sarcasm and surprise. He opened his palm giving a warm, inviting pose. "Well then, welcome to the Spirit Hunters. It has been decided that you will be a Squad leader. You can check the letter now if you want." He gave a whisper of a wink, adjusting his finger to point toward it.
I did as he told and pulled it out. The letter in my bag had been open, truly the words: LEADER OF SQUAD in bold ink stood there without any objections.
" I repeated the word silently, "What does that mean?"
He held his hand up, pointing to me. "I as a Messenger must assign you missions to prepare for the full training and testing of the Thirteen Teachers which will initiate you fully. Think of us as proto-teachers. In our society pre-Hunters such as you rarely work alone in their beginning years. So we assign newer ones to groups that we call Squads, which in a sense are like very small classes in a school. Each Squad can have up to four people; the leader and three followers."
"So why am I a leader?"
"Your lineage. And besides, from what I have studied about you, you seem like you'd be only the best for this position."
I blushed, feeling a bit flattered by his statement. Honestly I never really thought I would have to be a leader of anything in my life. He cut my thoughts short, "Tonight I have found someone who wishes to join with you."
"Seriously?" "Well he has wanted to be a part of a Squad for quite some time but he has been very busy with his life. Now that he is nearing adulthood, he is getting away from his household and helping assist us."
My hands moved to my hips while listening to him, tongue ready to get moving. "And how am I going to get to this man?"
Bram heard my crisp tone and wagged a finger at me. "Now, now. Don't get snappy with me. To answer your question: you will have to stay up until midnight."
My entire body became pained by this, feeling the bags just growing underneath my eyes. I clenched my teeth and sighed, "Okay but why?"
"Midnight is a magical time
it is the hour of the world in which the barrier between this world and the Spirit World is weakened to its greatest extent. This will allow you to climb through a portal I have temporarily made to his home forest."
The mentioning of a forest led to an array of questions springing in my throat, but I sealed them down with a bit of saliva. Bram twisted his body around, the scythe returning within his grasp. "I trust you will be able to this alone. I shall see to it that I meet with you later and check up on you."
I was flabbergasted by this, opening my mouth with appall, "You're just going to leave me?"
"I have other affairs to attend to." He fluffed my scalp with his hand, gripping the weapon tensely to make sure it didn't fall. There was an uncanny feeling that things would fall out as they were meant to be. It was once again within his gaze that I lost myself, becoming sedated by the haze within them.
With this new figure, I felt as if should have been my father instead of the man I had to face daily in his drunken stupor.
As he started to walk away, I saw the extension of rips along his jacket from the wings. There was a slight pause in his movement and then another shredding noise spread across the frozen ground. I watched with trepidation at the process before me. Slowly his wings were unveiled from the coat, protruding perfectly from his spine. The two raven arms spread across the front yard, engulfing it with pitch black tarnish. The feathers looked shiny on the down coat from the drying blood, making it seem only more mysterious and a tad bit gruesome. He crouched low to the ground, gathering strength in his legs.
His head shot up towards the skies and soon his entire body followed, catching the currents of warm air that still lingered from the concrete. There I stood until he was just a tiny speck trying to mesh among the expansion of stars and deep blanket of sky.
The cold caught up with my senses, making my body begin to shiver. I didn't realize how long I had been standing there just waiting for him to land again. But he had gone minutes maybe even hours ago. Quickly I checked my wristwatch. There was about an hour before midnight stroke. My eyes were drooping, head growing with pain. I had to continue staying awake any way I could. Dad already was fast asleep, his snores heard from behind his thick wood door.
The window that Bram had mentioned, situated in my room, was a few feet off the ground, to a point where I was worried about injury if the portal did not exist. Second thoughts started to rush through my mind and my guts twisted in ways I never thought they could move. I wasn't a personal fan of pain and the idea made me hiss and cringe.
I tried to free these worries with a few songs spilling from the radio. I cranked the knob to the right channel, melting the fret built up with the tunes of a classical orchestra.
Just as predicted, nothing appeared at my window at the hour of midnight. Yet strangely enough I felt a warm breeze. Out of pure curiosity, I stood up very slowly to prevent my head from rushing. Gently I unlatched the window, opening it fully to the world. There was an odd sensation when my skin contacted the air, the hairs standing up straight.
Slowly I stuck my extremities through, starting to climb up on the ledge. I let my foot dangle freely, closed my eyes and gave a leap of faith.