With one last look at her car she walked towards the surrounding trees, following the dirt path. As soon as the thick branches covered her in shadow she calmed. She was, and always would be an earth witch, regardless of her increasing ability in arcane. Someone who was attuned to nature in such a way that she craved the surrounding green. She wanted to sink her toes into the earth, and feel the roots beneath her feet.
It didn’t take her long to find the clearing, a large flattened circle that was surrounded by trees for privacy. To the left was a handmade wooden obstacle course, while the rest of the space was used for sparring. Both Titus and Axel were running through, trying to beat each other’s time in a blur too fast for her to distinguish. Riley met her eyes as soon as she appeared, a slow smile curling his lips.
“Appointment go well?” he asked, arms crossing to drop her attention down to his naked chest. Small bursts of sunlight broke through the canopy of leaves above, glittering across his skin.
“Am I interrupting something?” she replied with a smirk. “You seem to be all in various stages of undress.”
“We run hot,” Axel chuckled, smacking his palm over his own naked chest while Titus shook his head.
“I assume your appointment with D.E.A.D overran, so we don’t have much time,” Riley began, his head subtly shifting to face his men. “You know what to do.”
Alice knew he wanted to ask her how it went, but he also knew she wouldn’t want to discuss it in front of Titus or Axel. Not something so personal. With a sigh she dropped her bag to the earth before she held out her arm.
The warmth in her hand was familiar and strong. It crackled as it grew with barely any effort until her arm was completely encased in blue flames licked with green.
“Do it again,” Riley said with a sensual smirk that caused her stomach to knot in excitement.
Unable to stop her tongue from darting out to lick her dry lips she released her energy, only to repeat the same motion of the fire climbing up her arm once again. Riley’s eyes narrowed, following her tongue at her accidental tease.
“Do it again,” he growled, voice deepening.
“This is becoming uncomfortable,” Titus murmured, arms crossed against his chest. He leant against a tree, his knee bent as the wind played with his pale shoulder-length hair. “It’s clear her powers are developing far quicker than we anticipated.”
“No shit,” Axel chuckled beside him. “She can hold onto that arcane longer than any witch I have ever seen. Fuck, I bet she can give you a run for your money, Tit.”
Titus snarled. “Call me that again, pretty boy,” he threatened. “Just because she has the power, doesn’t mean she has the experience.”
“Is there a reason they’re here?” Alice asked when she flicked a glance to her right.
“You need to be trained by different styles of instructors,” Riley replied. “And they need to learn patience.”
“Patience?” Axel muttered. “Patience my arse.”
Patience? she mentally added.
That’s a bit bloody rude.
Riley chuckled as if he knew exactly what she thought. “Axel, you ready?”
Axel stretched, then immediately jumped into the makeshift circle. “Ready to eat dirt, my little doomsday?” He grinned, holding his hands out as arcane coated his fingertips.
“Bring it on, pretty boy,” she said, using the same nickname Titus had just used.
His grin tightened, his dark eyebrows coming low over deep green eyes. In a flash he threw a bolt of arcane, the purple sphere dissipating at her feet as she jumped out of the way with a gasp.
“So slow,” he taunted, readying another.
Alice steadied her legs just as he threw a larger sphere, the arcane burning across her flesh before she was able to rebound it back.
“That’s more like it,” Riley clapped.
A high pitched hum in the distance, beating in intervals like a drum.
Bom. Bom. Bom. Bom.
Alice moved out of the way of the bolt just in time, the purple ball hitting the tree directly behind her.
“Sorry,” she said, shaking her head to clear the noise. “Let’s go again.”
What the bloody hell was that?
She managed to dodge every bolt, returning some with her own blast of arcane. Her chi pulsated, energised as she tested its strength. Witches were restricted in their magic, their chi’s only able to stretch so much before they needed to recover. Alice was different, the closest to the original Elementals who each brandished a single element. Over time and a millennia of breeding, witches once singular powers mixed amongst the elements and diluted. Yet, Alice still held the strength from her ancestors power. It was supposed to be a gift, yet it felt like a curse.
Who really wanted to be in a prophecy for the end of the world?
Bom. Bom. Bom. Bom.
A pop of pressure forced her head to turn, the drum-beat hum increasing in pitch until her ears ached.
Fire burned across her torso before she fell against a tree, her head snapping back onto the bark with a crack.
“Alice?” Riley called as he jumped over the clearing, his hand reaching out to touch her face. “Are you…”
Wild magic woke up inside her, electric as it snapped out in a blast of lightning to send Riley flying across the circle. Riley twisted mid-air, landing in a crouch with his fist smashed into the earth.
Chest tight, Alice controlled her breathing as the wild magic wreaked havoc inside her chi, wanting her to turn, to move.
Bom. Bom. Bom. Bom.
“Superhero landing,” she said, sucking in a breath. “Cool.”
“What the fuck was that?” Axel asked, jaw dropped. “Was that just wild magic? How the fuck can you use wild magic?”
“Are you part Fae?” Titus added as he cautiously approached, eyes warily watching her arms that instinctively covered in blue flames.
She ignored them as Riley appeared in front of her, his mouth set in a grim line. “Are you okay?” she asked as the wild magic teased along her fingertips until she recalled all her magic. She hadn’t been able to call the wild magic since the trials, having thought it had gone dormant since she had been working with Peyton to try and remove their familiar connection.
What made it suddenly come back?
She couldn’t feel Peyton, which meant he hadn’t opened the bond they shared, a bond they had struggled to remove. Apparently witch, Fae pairings were supposed to be impossible. Which meant there wasn’t much information on how to break the connection.
“That was… unexpected,” Titus murmured.
Riley flashed her a look of concern. “How long has it been back?”
“Back?” Axel screeched. “What do you mean back? How can she have wild magic? How is it not ripping her apart?”
Alice watched their lips move with a frown, but was unable to concentrate on the words. Pressure built in her head as the hum continued.
Bom. Bom. Bom. Bom.