The Spirit Chronicles 1: Hidden Wind

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Atlanta

Submitted: December 18, 2017

Reads: 155

Comments: 1

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Submitted: December 18, 2017

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Atlanta never thought she would question the sanity of the animals around her. Why would she? They'd never led her astray or lied to her about anything before. Yet now, as she hurtled through the forest, she was starting to question if maybe, just maybe the sparrow she'd met earlier took her for a fool. The bird warned her about a looming danger, a peril she needed to inform her friends about before it was too late. He insisted she run because it was coming. Clearly, the only logical response at the moment would've been to obey and she had. 

 

Three minutes later though, Atlanta chastised herself for not finding another animal to question first. That rotten sparrow was probably having a good laugh at her expense. As she started to slow down, a flock of birds passed overhead. Their movements were unnaturally disjointed, so much so that they nearly collided with one another on several occasions. 

 

'Odd,' Atlanta stopped next to a tree to catch her breath, carefully observing the uncoordinated flight pattern. 

 

'It's coming!' they screeched in response, before veering sharply to the left and disappearing from sight. 

 

'Haha,' Atlanta drawled, 'yes, very funny. You can stop now.' That sparrow was putting a lot of effort into his practical joke, roping in some other birds to make it more realistic. Messing with their flight pattern, who would've thought of that? She snorted indignantly before pushing forward, continuing on her way at a leisurely pace. 

 

'Beware!' this time it was a squirrel, hurriedly scurrying toward her nest. She was about to give the rodent a good telling off when a rustling from behind caught her attention. Atlanta turned to face who she suspected to be the sparrow that started the whole shenanigan, ready to hand him her two cents worth.

 

'Okay, seriously,' Atlanta frowned as she searched for the offending bird, 'that's enough! You had your fun, now get over it!' The answer she got, however, was not one she expected. A guttural growl from within the trees set Atlanta's neck hairs on edge, instinct forcing her to back-up. It sounded again, this time followed by a hiss much like a water being thrown on hot coals.

 

'Where are you?' Atlanta tried to get a grip on her irrational fear. Yes, it scared the local population of creatures and sounded like nothing she'd heard before but it was still an animal of some sort and she could speak to animals. It responded with another water-on-coal hiss before it emerged from behind a tree. Atlanta's brain stuttered, unwilling to believe what her eyes were clearly telling it. The monstrosity obviously wasn't the kind of animal she was used to; for one it looked somewhat like a human cross lizard. A very burnt human cross lizard. It skin resembled coal, porous and hard with eyes like fiery rubies set into what she assumed was its head. It had human-like nose, ears with webbed spikes and its limbs ended in sinister-looking claws. It was also nearly 2ft taller than her. 

 

The annihilation of Air is coming,' its voice sounded like someone grinding two stones together, the last straw in Atlanta's faltering courage. She bolted around the tree and near threw herself down the hill, hoping and praying her knowledge of the area would give her sufficient headway. As tempted as she was to holler for help, the last thing she wanted to do was alert the monster of her location. How fast could it move anyway? How good was its hearing? Atlanta forced the questions into the back of her mind and pressed herself harder, running at a speed she hadn't achieved since her cross-country days. When she reached the spot where the forest floor dipped sharply toward the river, she nearly cried in relief; her friends weren't far off now. She could make it. She had to make it. Together they could take the monstrosity on.

 

'It's coming!' the falcon's cry was so sudden, it jolted Atlanta to the left. Her foot caught in an upturned root and she was thrown into an unexpected roll down the hill. Her descent was treacherous, rocks and branches and thorns tearing at her clothes and skin. Atlanta came to an abrupt halt when her back slammed into a boulder, completely winding her. She tried desperately to drag a breath into her lungs but they remained unresponsive, so she lay there for a while, her entire body smarting as she battled to breathe. 

 

'Atlanta?' a familiar voice called and Atlanta tried to crane her neck to see who it was. Pain so severe blossomed in her lower back that she clenched her eyes shut, for fear the spots and vertigo would make her vomit.

 

'Oh snap,' the voice sounded closer this time but she still couldn't see the person, 'Atlanta!' a figure blocked the light filtering through the trees and slowly Atlanta risked opening her eyes again. 

 

'Al,' Atlanta managed to rasp despite it still feeling like a buffalo was trampling her lungs. At least it wasn't an elephant anymore. The woman looming over her smiled in response, her grey eyes steely with concern. 

 

'What happened?' Alessa moved some of Atlanta's hair from her face, 'Can you move?' Normally human contact made her flinch but now she leaned into it. At least she tried to, considering her current injuries. 

 

'If I could move,' Atlanta took a shaky breath, 'do you honestly think I'd be here?' Alessa quirked a brow in response before turning her attention to their surroundings. 

 

'I fell,' Atlanta eventually continued, 'something was chasing me.' With the creature back in the forefront of her mind, Atlanta was eager to leave the forest behind although she honestly couldn't fathom how. 

 

'Chasing you?' Alessa's glanced down at her then up at the hill again, her brow furrowing, 'What was chasing you?' The other woman's confusion was warranted, honestly. Little to no creatures in the animal kingdom scared Atlanta. The larger carnivores normally attempted it but with a few honeyed words, she got them to change their minds. 

 

'Something...weird,' Atlanta testily wiggled her toes, then her fingers, almost sighing in relief when all her digits responded. Perhaps leaving wasn't such a far-fetched idea... Atlanta caught sight of her friend's expression and it almost willed her to explain further but she didn't. What was more important was for them to exit the forest in a timeous manner before the creature found them. Or else the others would have to find both their corpses. 

 

'I want to fetch William,' Alessa chewed on her lip, 'but I can't leave you here. Not with whatever was chasing you still out there.' 

 

'Well you can't carry me,' Atlanta tried sitting up once more but immediately stopped when a soldering iron pressed into her spine, 'go fetch someone, please. How far are we?'

 

'About ten minutes,' Alessa's face had gone white, her hands extended before her as if she wanted to help Atlanta. Something caught her attention and she glanced up the hill again, her expression freezing. A twig snapped.  Atlanta felt her heart falter and her blood turned to ice; it had found them. Dead leaves crunched underfoot. They were both dead and there was nothing either of them could do. Of all the people who could've found her, why did it have to be the one person in the group without a Talent?

 

'Please run,' Atlanta closed her eyes, waiting for the telltale water-on-coal hiss, maybe even a growl. She couldn't expect Alessa to sacrifice herself because she was injured. Maybe her friend could make it back by the time the monster had finished Atlanta off. 

 

'Even if she could run from me,' an exceptionally normal male voice intoned, 'she'd probably have an asthma attack before she got very far.'

 

'Dane?' Atlanta's eyes sprung open and temporary relief settled in her gut before it was replaced by suspicion, 'What are you doing in the forest?'

 

'Last time I checked,' he went on his haunches and peered at her, 'it's open to the public so I don't need a reason, do I?' If she hadn't been in agony, Atlanta would have decked him for the attitude. Alessa must've sensed the tension because she quickly intervened, re-explaining to Dane what happened. All the while her friend was talking, Atlanta studied the averagely built male. His hair looked inky black in the shade but, as he shifted into the sunlight, the rays caught thin streaks of grey. How have I never noticed that before? Atlanta squinted, trying to get a better look but the frustrating male took a step back into the shade before she could decide if she was seeing things or not.

 

'I suppose I should take her to Jace so he can heal her then,' Dane said, turning his brown eyes back to Atlanta, 'he should be in the meeting by now.' 

 

'William cancelled, remember? Also, I think you should bring Jace to her,' Alessa was back to chewing her lip, her finger instinctively wrapping itself in one of her copper-coil curls, 'I don't know if moving her is a good idea.' 

 

'And leave you here?' Dane quirked a black brow. Atlanta felt torn; half of her didn't want to be moved but the other half didn't want to be left alone. Again the thought of Alessa sacrificing herself wriggled into Atlanta's mind and instantly her mental argument was over but before she could voice her thoughts, Alessa spoke.

 

'It'll take you a couple of minutes to get to Jace and bring him back,' Alessa pointed out before she pulled herself onto the same boulder that stopped Atlanta's descent. Dane looked like he wanted to argue and Atlanta silently begged him to; she'd much rather he whisk the unTalented woman off than have her try her luck in the forest. Finally and much to Atlanta's disappointment, he stood from his spot, stepped into the nearest shadow and disappeared in a swirl of darkness. The loss of his presence made Atlanta shudder, a motion she instantly regretted. 

 

'Appeasing Hera, are we?' Alessa asked after a moment, completely oblivious to the agony Atlanta felt. 

 

'Why would I appease that old-,' Atlanta paused as understanding dawned, the idea of her hair colour being a tribute to the Queen of the Greek gods successfully distracting her, 'No, I just like the style.' 

 

'The peacock colouring suits you better than the plain red,' Alessa said, a smile evident in her voice. Atlanta had no time to answer when darkness swirled in the same shadow Dane had disappeared into. True as nut, after a couple of seconds Jace stumbled from the growing black cloud. Dane followed shortly and just like that the blackness seemingly seeped into his very being. Jace knelt in front of her; his long legs making him look a lot like a frog. The jock-looking healer with his golden blond hair managed to put her almost completely at ease, despite the ever-present threat of the monster lurking over her. 

 

'Ouchie,' Jace screwed up his face and sat back once he was done inspecting her, 'quite a tumble you took, ey?'

 

'You don't say,' Atlanta quirked a brow at him and his warm brown eyes twinkled with mirth. 

 

'We'll have you right-o in no time-o,' Jace clicked his fingers, took a steadying breath and extended his hands over her. At first, nothing happened, not that Atlanta could see or feel but eventually her skin started burning up. The heat intensified until it felt like she would self-combust. Then it seeped into her pores, through her muscles and right into her bones. It grew hotter still until it was all she could feel; like someone had pickled her in acid. Atlanta pinched her eyes shut, biting the inside of her cheeks so she wouldn't scream. Whichever authors said healing was a pleasant, tingling warmth, clearly had never been healed before. 

 

'Done,' Jace squeaked and Atlanta's eye popped open once more. It still felt like her body was on fire but the heat was beginning to ebb away. The healer stumbled to his feet, his complexion pallid, and Alessa immediately went to support him. Atlanta watched the pair for barely a moment before she stretched out her arms, her facial muscles prepared to cringe lest they feel any pain. Nothing. Growing bolder, Atlanta rolled onto her stomach and pushed herself upward. Other than her body being stiff, she felt nothing else. 

 

'Dane, take her back to William,' Alessa said, taking charge as she guided Jace to the footpath, 'I'll walk Jace back.  He needs some fresh air.' What Jace looked like he needed, Atlanta mused, was his bed and a mug of hot chocolate, never mind fresh air.

 

'We'll all walk,' Atlanta said, levelly then busied herself with pulling the leaves from her shredded jeans, uncomfortable when three sets of eyes turned to her. No one argued though and solemnly they started the walk back.

 

The schoolyard was empty by the time Atlanta, Alessa, Jace and Dane made it. Atlanta was glad to be back in civilisation, it nullified any chance of another encounter with that creature. Yet, as she stepped further and further into normality, she wondered if her brain had conjured the monster from some dark part of her mind. Surely nothing as absurd existed? it sounded like something Alessa or Ria would come up with. Something Atlanta would snort at and yet, she saw the monstrosity. What else could it have been? Even in their world of gifted individuals, fantastical creatures like monsters and fairies and elves didn't exist. 

 

William looked up from behind his desk when they walked in and instantly stood, beckoning them to sit down. All four of them obliged. Atlanta took the seat right in front of the 6ft2 educator, not because she wanted to but because she felt safer being there. As absurd as it was, she felt better with him and the others between her and the door. 

 

'What happened?' William asked, his moss green eyes flitting between Alessa and Atlanta. Her friend looked at her and she took a breath, using the pause to collect her thoughts. When she delved into the explanation of the creature and the events leading up to her meeting with the creature, William ran a hand through his brown-black hair. 

 

'I know how it sounds,' Atlanta said, 'believe me, I'm questioning it myself. What else could it be though? I know 99.9% of the animals in this area and that wasn't one of them.' The others shared a look and Atlanta started fidgeting with a tear in her shirt, diverting her eyes to the unexplained portrait of an exquisite woman nestled in the corner. She felt like asking her if they had to make her feel like she was talking nonsense? Surely William had dealt with worse in his years on the council? Atlanta thought better of it though, deciding that such an absurd motion would make her story even less believable. 

 

'Have you asked any of the animals?' William questioned. Atlanta felt annoyance burn in her chest as she forced her eyes back to the educator.

 

'Oh yes, the first thing I should have done while I was rolling down the hill,' she bit out, 'or maybe while I was running? Yeah, my bad.' 

 

'Atlanta,' Alessa started, reaching out for her but she jerked away, her lips set into a thin line. For a supposed leader, William possessed little to no ability in making people trust him or even to feel comfortable enough to speak to him. 

 

'That's not what I meant,' William looked completely unperturbed, his eyes boring into her, 'I thought perhaps you would've done so on the walk back.' That she hadn't thought of quizzing the wildlife irritated her even more but she didn't voice it, instead just fixing the teacher with the best deadpan look she could. He sat back in his chair, knitting his fingers together over his chest. Silenced passed for several long moments before he nodded his head.

 

'I suggest you all go home and get some rest for now,' William fixed each of them with a meaningful look, but his words were aimed especially at the unTalented between them, 'I'll speak with the rest of the councillors and see what we can come up with. Maybe someone else has reported something similar.' And that was it, the end of the whole situation. Atlanta knew the councillors would think even less of her story because they had more important things to worry about, like convincing the Talented children not to leave town. She made no mention of it though until she and Alessa were alone in Alessa's purple Chevy Spark. 

 

'I know the council can be stubborn,' Alessa allowed, 'especially about things that don't agree with them but William should argue your point.'

 

'How can he argue my point when he doesn't believe me?' Atlanta asked.

 

'He does believe you,' Alessa gave her a look, a frown deepening the indentations on the side of her mouth, 'none of us doesn't believe you,' 

 

'Sure feels that way,' Atlanta grumbled, sinking further into the seat. Again her fingers pulled a tear in her shirt, so much so that Alessa actually slapped her hand away.

 

'Attie,' 

 

'Don't call me that,' Atlanta glared at her friend but the look was only half-hearted. If there was one person she could almost relax around, one person in this town she could surely believe, it was Alessa even with all her imaginations. At least they were harmless and she shared them freely. 

 

'My point is, William will help you figure out what you saw today,' Alessa brought the car to a gentle halt in the driveway of the two-storey house her and her adoptive sister shared, 'and if he can't, Ria and I will!' Atlanta was hesitant to say anything but she knew one thing for certain; if William couldn't convince the council, Alessa would be useless to help. Ria, with her Talent for shadows, could perhaps still scour the forest for the monstrosity but there was nothing Alessa could do. She let the silence stretch, unwilling to break her already sensitive friend's heart. Talents were, after all, a sore subject to Alessa. 

 

'I've been having weird dreams lately,' Alessa continued by herself as she pulled off into the yard, 'I wanted to broach it with the others but thought it might be irrelevant. Now in light of what you saw, maybe it's related.' Atlanta felt her heart sink into her shoes as she watched the other woman. The way her eyes sparkled at the possibility...

 

'I doubt it,' Atlanta said, convinced that nipping it in the bud now was more merciful than false hope.

 

'You don't even know what the dreams were about,' Alessa pulled the handbrake up a little harder than necessary. 

 

So much for keeping my thoughts to myself.

 

'Al,' Atlanta paused, momentarily caught between sugar-coating and not mincing her words. She decided on the latter, 'coming from you who, at one point, thought you could control the wind-.'

 

'-yes, because the wind reacting to my moods wasn't weird!' Alessa interrupted, her voice rising an octave. 

 

'Or you who insisted you could feel...what was it? Presences?...that other people couldn't,' Atlanta raised a brow, 'or that you had telekinesis or that you could read people's minds. The list is near endless.'

 

'I really thought I could do some of those things!' Alessa's brow furrowed as tears pooled in her eyes, 'But these dreams are different anyway, Attie, I swear.' Atlanta decided to ignore the use of her least favourite nickname. Rather she focused on delivering the blow that the rest of the Talented clearly weren't willing to. Of course, she needed to play the villain. It had to be done and she was clearly the only one willing enough to do it. 

 

'No, Alessa, they aren't. You can't control the wind or feel presences, or deliver prophecies or whatever else you've convinced yourself you can do,' she said it slowly, the same annoyance from before burning in her chest. This time, however, it was aimed at Alessa's so-called friends. How could they convince themselves that letting her hope so falsely, to pine so intensely after a Talent she would never have was all right? 

 

'No, you're wrong-,' Alessa started, shaking her head. Her body actually started vibrating her denial was so strong.  Here we go, Atlanta cringed mentally and cut her off.

 

'I'm not, Alessa, and you know that,' she forged on, regardless of how quickly her friend's state was deteriorating, 'the others have let this go on too long. You are not Talented and it's time you believe it. For your sanity and the sake of everyone around you, accept what you are and forge a life for yourself beyond this obsession with Talents. Please.' With that, Atlanta got out the car and headed toward the front porch. She didn't look behind her nor did she stop until she was safely hidden behind one of the pillars, her entire body drooping. 

 

Why do emotions have to complicate everything?


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