Chapter eight - The Speech
Dartemis assessed the girl in front of him with narrowed eyes. He was sitting cross-legged on the grass that smothered the hills beneath the palace. With her back to the rising moon (although there were already seven in the sky already), her platinum blonde hair was ringed with a magnificent halo that gave her calf long hair a turquoise and lavender tinge.
"Say that what you're telling me is true. How will we know when this time comes. Iliana, I think that your long years are finally catching up with you." Dartemis stated with a sly grin. The girl, Iliana, shot him a warning look, her sea-like eyes transforming like the sea in a storm. Calm and tranquil to savage and unnerving.
Iliana's eyes smoothed again and became once more, a lagoon of pure calm that made you want to drown in it.
"Dartemis, this is no time to joke. They are coming sooner than you thought, you should listen more to Arabella. Her heart may be pure and loyal to you but her sole and mind are poisoned by the Shadow Moon. She knows them better than I could ever hope. You mistrust her in this area, I can tell. Your eyes cannot lie to me no matter how hard you try to conceal it." Iliana whispered, this her usuall volume, nothing to worry about.
Dartemis pondered Iliana's words, for a moment.
"Wise words, my dear. You seem very sure of yourself, I hope that your reasons are perfectly correct." Dartemis retorted with a joking smile toying at the corners of his mouth. Iliana lifted her chin in a way that showed that: 1) the converstion was over and 2) her reasons were always correct!
"Very well, my dear. I shall see you again soon, and I will arange an opportunity for you to meet with Arabella before the new recruits begin training." At this Dartemis got to his feet and took off for the main doors of the palace.
Iliana began her meditation. This was not just routine, it was a ritual. A girl, who looked barely thirteen but was actually older than Dartemis, was not normally able to hold concentration for long periods of time. Unfortunately for Iliana, her teenage instincts began to take control of her body. Oh, there were never any "female" problems but she always got the mood swings even though she kept them in tight rein.
Her mind was beginning to swarm with memories of when Arabella first laid eyes on the palace. At that time there were other people who lived in the world (people that weren't protectors). Arabella had been the second, after Dartemis, and her learning skills made it easier to perfect her lessons quickly. Arabella had blossomed from a sandy-haired, blue-eyed angel into a demon in true form. She was exactly what they were looking for. The radiation sweep had transformed Arabella and at first she was difficult to control.
When Arabella reached eighteen she was highly skilled in every field. On her birthday she decided to take the journey. It was quite incredible actually, Arabella was the most peculiar of all the protectors. Once Arabella had returned from her journey she had changed considerably. Arabella had stepped into that dark and gloomy cave knowing that she was about to experience the most extraordinary thing in her life but all she did was grin and face it with her warrior-like stance. Iliana could still remember the feeling that trembled through her as the cave locked behind her and blocked off any sight or sign.
"Well … it is a pleasure to find you here, Aonie." Iliana mumbled as her mind came back to the present and her body parts began to work again.
"I was looking for you actually. That must have been quite a sight, her back then. Do you miss the old days at all?" Aonie replied and slipped down in front of Iliana, her knees tucked under her like an excited child around a campfire.
"Yes, I do. Arabella was somewhat controllable back then." Iliana opened her eyes and chuckled at Aonie. She was exactly how Iliana remembered her: strong; smart; and seeping with psychic ability.
Aonie gave her a curious look then grinned with her. She could just imagine Arabella at that age, and if she compared her to now it was an amusing thought.
"I've missed Arabella. She's always away for so long, it's like an eternity. I should come and visit you more regularly though, Iliana."
"Yes, you should. However, I'm sure that I will survive. Besides you have your own duties to attend to."
"I've never been up here before. It's beautiful."
"It is isn't it? Arabella found it. She ran off one day and we found her curled up in a ball in a hole beneath a boulder."
"Why'd she run away?"
"She had a bad dream that night and I think she saw … what you saw in that vision yesterday."
Aonie paused for a moment then sighed and stated the obvious. "So you know about that."
"There's nothing that goes on in this palace or with the protectors that I do not know about."
"Ah, of course! Arabella mentioned something about that when I was younger. The all seeing eye."
"Almost there. But enough about Arabella and myself, how about you and that Edward?"
"What about me and that Edward?"
"You tell me."
"Iliana, I've never seen this side of you … but I think I like it!"
At that moment a horn sounded, like the ones that you used to get to signal a war beginning. Iliana and Aonie both looked to the palace above them and then back to each other. At the same time the two girls transported themselves into the grand hall of the palace.
* * *
Arabella had finally found the notepad she had been looking for. It was leather, A5 and quite light. The cover was beautiful: it was a dyed green; dragons swirled around the frame; in the center of the frame was an intricate forest design complete with animals and plants. Arabella opened up the book and was smothered by the heavenly scent of ancient pages.
The first page read: property of Robin Beaumont and Tristan Beaumont. It was written in delicate and emaculate calligraphy. Arabella's hand came up and dragged down the page limply. As she turned the brown and stiff page she could feel hot tears threatening to spill over the edges. The page fell and more perfect handwriting appeared. This page was about the owners of the book.
Tristan Beaumont: 16 years old; blonde hair; green eyes; 6ft".
Robin Beaumont: 13 years old; blonde hair; green eyes; 5ft 5".
Then on the next page was more information that made Arabella grin.
Isabella Beaumont: 6 months old; brown tufts; brown eyes.
Ariana Beaumont: 38 years old; black hair; green eyes; 5ft 6".
Brian Beaumont: 40 years old; brown hair; brown eyes; 6ft 2".Arabella Beaumont: 6 years old; blonde hair; blue eyes; 4ft 3".
Arabella flinched as she came to the last name: the name of her father. She could still remember the feel of his fist slamming into her jaw. The memories began to pour into her mind. Every other day, he would come home and randomly begin to yell at her mother, then he would hit her. Tristan would intervene and get a hit himself, as would Robin even though he wouldn't do anything.
Then he would set his hollow brown eyes on Arabella and every time she would try to run. Rarely she would get away but more often he would grab her by her hair and throw her back into the room. Usually he would give her a beating too, but if she was lucky then all she would get was a fistful. Either Tristan or Robin (or both) would stop her father from doing any more damage to her. At the point when she started being involved she was a frail and vulnerable five year old. As Arabella sat in her homely chambers she pondered over the fact that she wasn't damaged in some way now.
Arabella used to wake up and go to the kitchen for breakfast in the morning and would usually see her mother sweeping up things that had gotten broken the night before, and Tristan making breakfast with a black eye, a fat lip and bruises all over the rest of his body. He would place her toast and jam in front of her, stroke his bruised, bleeding hand down her hair with as much of a smile as he could manage. As the beatings went on, Tristan would come out less battered and bruised. When he got home from school he would go outside and practise, just in case.
Arabella wiped her eyes dry and turned the page. On this page was some work that her brothers had done in school on that day. She turned the page and kept finding more school work. Finally, a non-educational page emerged. This was the page she had been looking for.
Father will be home in an hour, I don't really want to leave Arabella on her own in case he gets here early, but I must go. I will tell her to hide, she's good at hiding. She has found a spot that she hides in and he never seems to find her there , she won't show anyone where it is. I love Arabella so much but I can see why father thinks that she is not his. I just see something in her that isn't like that rest of us. Thst is why he started beating mother, because he thinks that she is cheating on him, even though he is cheating on mother. Little Isabella is the only one of us that he seems to love, I see the way that he looks at her and it makes me happy to know that he would never harm her or put her in dangers way.
There is something about Isabella that makes me cringe. When she laughs, it is a very strange laugh as if there is something that she is hiding. Stupid, she is only 6 months of age, how could she be hiding something. But still there is something lingering at the backs of her eyes. I stand over her crib at night and listen while mother tells me what's going on and how she feels (I love listening to mother, I can see the relief on her face as she shoulders some of her burdens onto me). I get this strange feeling as if we shouldn't be discussing it in front of Isabella. She doesn't understand a word that we are saying but it feels as if she does. I need to sort my mind out, I know, but I know how I feel and I know what my gut is telling me and that is not to trust her even at this age. I sound psychotic! Anyway …
Arabella has been told and now I must go and meet the others.
"No! Goddess, make it stop, please!" Arabella screamed as her hands flew up to the side of her head. But the images just kept on torturing her …
A six year old Arabella heard a scream from outside in the front garden. Then a bang on the front door as something smashed into it. She ran through the house and hid in her special hiding place just like her big brother, Tristan, had told her to. At that moment, she heard her little sister, Isabella, giggle and her blue eyes widened in horror. She began to move but froze as she heard the door fly off its hinges. Her back slammed against the wall of her secret hiding place and automatically her index finger came up against her lips.
Arabella could hear the things that had smashed through the door storming through her house, opening doors and searching through rooms. The door to the room that she was hiding in opened and her breath caught in her throat. Her lower lip began to quiver against her finger. Arabella heard heavy footsteps move back out of the room and the door slam behind them. Her breath escaped her mouth audibly and her hands clamped across it as if to make no more noise …
"Stop! Please, stop." Arabella sobbed as her mind came back to the present. She sighed and fell to her knees, the black onyx floor icy and collecting beneath her. Her breath came heavy and shallow, the sweat dripped down her face mixed with salty tears. A sob escaped involuntarily. A second later she felt slender arms curling around her shoulders, she hadn't even realised that the door had opened until Helena held her.
"Arabella, it's okay. Shh. It's alright." Helena cooed into Arabella's hair. She rocked her back and forth as the sobs came harder and fiercer.
After five minutes Arabella's sobs cut off and she stood quickly.
"What is it?" Helena asked standing up next to her.
"The horn. You need to stay here, I will be back in a minute." Arabella replied, completely recovered of her earlier drama. She dematerialised from her room, leaving Helena dumbfounded, and reappeared in the grand hall.
Arabella stood in a large crowd of unusual and colourful people. She began to shove her way through the throng of people and came out on the front line. Dartemis stood at the front beckoning for her to join him and her friends. As she moved forward the crowd began to hush.
"You've become the centre of attention." Stated a quiet and familiar voice behind Arabella.
"Iliana, it has been so long. How are you?" Arabella replied turning and extending her arms. The two comrades embraced warmly, something they hadn't done in over two thousand years.
"I am well thank you, and I can tell that you are also." Iliana answered again in a whisper. As she pulled away she gave Arabella a quick sceptical frown that showed she knew exactly how Arabella was feeling (like dog poo to be proper). Arabella dropped her eyes and when she looked back up she was looking straight into the crowd. She swallowed deeply as her pulse picked up. She knew not one of the soldiers that stood in front of her, they were the volunteers. A sharp tremble licked at her neck and spread throughout her whole body.
Six chairs lined the wall on her right and following Iliana's and Dartemis's lead, she took the third chair. Hunter sat on her left and Iliana on her right, then Aonie and Edward sat next to Hunter. The crowd then sat, in almost a Mexican wave that made Aonie cackle and Edward chuckle. Dartemis stood at the end of the row and began to introduce everyone in turn.
Iliana smiled sweetly. Hunter nodded politely. Aonie grinned wildly and waggled her fingers in the air. Edward just smiled then chuckled again. Arabella was the last to be introduced but she did nothing, just looked at the floor with her heart thundering in her head. Hunter nudged her slightly but again, she did nothing. Dartemis continued explaining who each of them were and what they were going to be doing for the volunteers. Arabella took a few long, deep breaths and forced herself to look up at least at the front row.
Arabella's heart stopped cold.
Staring back at her was a beautiful girl with ebony skin and glossy black wringlets.
"Now, please listen carefully. We have approximately two earth
Months to perfect ourselves and our moves. The three teams will each be mentored by Hunter, Aonie and Edward for a certain period of time then you will change to the next. Aonie, you will be taking team Phoenix for the first two weeks. Edward, you will be taking team Centaur, and Hunter, you will taking team Wolf. Arabella will be passing through every now and again to check on things. So Arabella, would you like to take the stand?" Dartemis finished as he moved to take his seat.
The way was clear and Arabella forced herself to stand tall and with dignity and authority she faced the soldiers in front of her . She cleared her throat then smiled sweetly at the expectant crowd.
"Hello, I would just like to say thank you for volunteering. Some of you here are probably part of a realm that has been exterminated, you are here with the fire of revenge burning fiercely in your brave hearts. That is good, hatred is a strong emotion and with us we will teach you how to transform that passion into a weapon. However you have to take care that your hatred for these monsters is not something that will cloud your vision.
"Others of you will be here because you know what these things can do and you want to help us to destroy them once and for all. Either way you will be taught the skills and training that will help you to become fine warriors like the ones who have faught against these vile creatures for thousands of years. Your stamina and endurance will be tested to breaking point. Your minds pushed to the farthest corners. You will be going to bed every night wishing that you hadn't signed up to this, and waking up feeling much the same. Every minute of every day you will be pushed to your limits in mind, body and spirit."
Arabella paused as she swept a quick glance across the crowd, they were shocked, scared and worried. Exactly how she wanted them to feel. An eerie and murderous grin slithered across her mouth, taking everyone by surprise. And she continued, her voice louder and definite.
"But when you reach that battlefield, with your comrades, friends and the people you have come to know as your family at your side. With your body fired up with adrenaline and your pulse strong. You'll know that that day was what you were born for . You will know that this is your destiny!"
As she screamed the last sentence the crowd erupted around me and I couldn't contain the yell that speeded from the pit of my stomach, up my throat and through my mouth as my fist punched the air above my head.
Arabella was right, these were my friends.
This was my family.
And I, Electra, would gladly die for them in the end!
When the battle came, I would laugh in the face of death and the enemy would quiver at the sound of my cry. Quake at the sight of our battallion.
Let them come, because I am ready!Arabella thought. The Greek slave with the amber eyes and the healing touch. The Electra who perished in battle. Impossible! She could feel the eyes of Hunter, Iliana, Edward and Aonie all burning into her. The girl grinned at Arabella then nodded her head to show that Arabella was correct. Arabella's golden eyes widened and her breath escaped her mouth as if someone had punched her in the gut.Robin has left for the park with our friends. I said that I would join him soon, but I wanted to write first. I know that something is going to happen today. Something really bad! Jane keeps telling me that they're coming, I keep asking "who?" but she just looks at me in a confused way, like she doesn't know herself. Jane's going to be there at the park today, well she said that she would be there to support me. I really like Jane, she is very beautiful and she is very smart. I think I might spend more time with her.Arabella slammed the notebook shut. Now she remembered that her brothers and friends were not at home when they came. Arabella flinched again as the flashback threatened to show. She threw it away but it kept on zooming back into view like a boomerang.