‘Asper? Lady Asper! What’s wrong?’ I crouched down screaming, trying to drown out the terrible screeching. My ears where bleeding. They had to be. Cobalt at leaped from his spot on the couch and was shaking me. I tried to shake him away from me, flailing my arms before slapping them over my ears to scream even louder. Pots and pans started spinning up and away from their respectively places, clanging against each other in a bid to make more noise.
‘MILADY.’ Cobalt roared. His eyes were black and he seemed to wince at my screaming but I could even hear myself. He pushed my head down with his as my stainless steel knife whizzed past our heads to lodge itself in my antique cabinet. I would have stood up and screamed ‘That is mahogany!’ but I couldn’t even move.
‘Make it stop.’ I only realized I was crying when I choked on my own tears and spit. ‘Please, please.’ I begged. Cobalt covered my ears quickly, his large hands covering the crown of my head easily as my ears. His hands seemed much more effective than mine because the screeching seemed to mellow and fade out. My screams aired from my mouth and I panted. My throat was raw and dry, making swallowing painful.
‘Shhh, shh.’ Cobalt hushed me as I whined from the pain of my self inflicted sore throat. His hands eased from my head and I clawed at it, thinking the screeches would resume. My throat couldn’t afford another screaming fit. I practically screamed my taste buds off. He easily fought my hands off his and I flinched at the lack of contact. The screeching was gone.
In my relief, the pots and pans dropped from their suspended positions with a deafening clash making me whimper. Cobalt looked around and cursed at the mess. Plates and bowls were shattered on the ground, woks and pots were dented and cooking utensils were either broken or bent.
‘What happened?’ He looked me in the eye sternly.
‘I-I don’t know…’ I stuttered. ‘There was this high pitched sound… so loud. You must have heard it.’
‘Milady, the only high pitched sound I heard was your screaming.’ I stared up at him, eyes wide. He knew what I was thinking. ‘Bollocks.’ He cursed and scooped me from the floor, taking it upon himself to avoid the broken glass on my marble floor.
‘You aren’t crazy, Milady.’ He set me down on the couch. ‘Just tell me what happened.’
‘I heard him.’ I turned to him. The fear in my eyes must have returned because his commanding face turned into one of worry. ‘He said he was coming for me. He sounded a-angry.’ I choked on the last word.
‘And then I heard the screech.’ my hands started shaking as I brought it up to my ears again. ‘Like he promised to punish me and, and-‘
‘Hush.’ Cobalt hugged me and pat my back. ‘He can’t come back. He’ll have to die right? He won’t go into Isatine by himself, it’s too dangerous.’
‘He won’t?’ I was a little torn. As much as he was going crazy for me, he wouldn’t die for me. Call me a hopeless romantic. I glanced around and surveyed the mess. I gasped. My home was a war zone. Cobalt seemed to notice.
‘Look.’ he got up reluctantly ‘you stay right here and I’ll get the broom.’ Turning, he started folding his sleeves.
‘It’s alright.’ I grabbed his hand and tugged lightly. ‘Give me a moment.’ I closed my eyes and help my hands at my temples. All the screaming and sudden burst of energy had taken it’s toll on me. I took a breath and spread my arms and hands slightly to my sides. A light breeze flowed through me. I envisioned the shards of shattered china in the bin and the kitchen back to normal. From beside me, I felt Cobalt shuffle to my side. Opening my eyes I found everything spic and span, with exception of a few stacks of broken plates and whatnot.
‘Cold chocolate?’ I levitated a cup from the counted and opened the fridge with a nudge of my mind, or should I say, magic.
‘No thanks.’ Cobalt looked positively green. ‘Do you always do this? All the whirling around makes me sick.’
‘Not when Mom’s around.’ I shrugged. ‘Let’s go. We need to run over to Home-fix to get things replaced. Mom will flip if she finds out I wrecked everything.’
‘Do you always?’ Cobalt blurted out.
‘No.’ I glared. ‘And I really hope this will be the last time. I can’t afford so many mishaps.’ I glanced into my wallet and frowned.
I watched her. She looked worn out and pale, tossing things into a metal cart. Her display of power had been shocked- devastating. She was the eye of the storm, with her kitchen utensils substituting wind. She could destroy, yet should could heal. It was like time was being turned back. Everything went back to it’s respective places. Magic.
‘Cobalt?’ Asper snapped her fingers in my face, snapping me out of my thoughts.
‘Yeah?’ I pretended to stretch, trying not to show how disturbed I was with her powers.
‘I was wondering if you’d like a personal mug of some sort.’ she held up a black cup with curly writing and a blue mug with a caption that read ‘Never too much coffee.’
‘Um, the black one.’ I replied a little too quickly. She frowned and placed the mug into the cart with a shrug.
We continued through the shop in silence. I helped her reach for items on the higher shelves while she continued to ask me if I wanted more stuff like toothbrushes and alarm clocks.
‘Cobalt?’ She whispered once we were out from the check out counter.
‘Yeah?’ I said for the tenth time today.
‘Are you…’ she looked down at her shoes ‘disturbed by me? Scared of me?’
I stared at her for a few moments. True, I had every right to be afraid of her after what I had seen. But she was someone I had watched grow up, treated like a sister and sworn to protect. Plus look at her! So small, so fragile.
‘Yes…’ I said slowly and her gaze dropped to her tiny ballerina style shoes ‘But I’ll stay to protect you, I promised I will right?’ That seemed to be all she wanted to hear she smiled up at me, bright and stunning, like she used to back in Iroria.
‘Good.’ She whispered.
She skipped back home, hurrying me with each step. Not giving me any chance to put our loots back physically, she clapped her hands and the pottery sailed through the air into already opened cupboards.
‘Come, come!’ She grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the house. My shoe laces tied themselves and the door locked behind me. ‘We don’t have lots of time left.’ I didn’t understand what.
She lived close to the woods. In fact, the woods seemed to be just behind her home. We trekked through the grass, roots and weeds before bursting into a clearing. It seemed perfectly cleared out, like a crop circle.
‘What is this?’ it was fascinating. Clean and refreshing.
‘It’s a little part of Salvator Castle that I brought to Earth with me.’ she beamed. Waving her hand at a patch of land and shrubs started to sprout. Roses, daisies, baby’s breath, sunflowers and even lilies. In a matter for minutes, I stood in the famous garden of Salvator Castle.
‘Complete with swing.’ Asper called from a raised hill, already sitting and swinging.
I ran up behind her and began to give her light pushes. She threw her head back and laughed. It sounded the same as always. Wind chimes.
‘How do you learn all these?’ I touched a flower to see if it would melt away or turn into dust. ‘Spell books?’
‘My dreams.’ She said airily ‘I’ve learnt everything from my dreams.’ I turned to her and gave her an incredulous look.
‘You may think that means I can see the future or something. I wish I could.’ she continued to swing. ‘If I could I would have known where to run when I left Varrock.’
‘But you would have never met me.’ I answered, feeling a little sad she was so tactless towards me.
‘I’m sure Allura would have allowed me to meet you if it was to be.’ she kicked off the ground to gain more momentum. ‘You seem very curious. Go on, ask me anything.’
‘Alright.’ I started, seeing this as a rare chance since Asper rarely let her guard down. ‘Do you do… destructive magic?’
There were a few moment of silence as she swung back and forth in thought.
‘I wouldn’t say I’ve learn anything destructive, maybe in self defense.’ she leaned back and kicked her legs higher. ‘I’m a good witch. I do more magic that has to do with nature, herbs and healing. Look.’
She raised a hand towards an unidentofied bush. A large flower emerged and started to bloom. Within it was a rabbit, it’s fur as white as snow.
‘This little feller broke its leg a few days ago and I’ve been taking care of him. I’m currently learning how to heal animals. I think I’m getting better, he looks as good as new. The last one took a week to get well.’ She picked the wee creature from its bed of petals and nuzzled it.
‘Aren’t you a cutie?’ She cooed ‘I think I’ll name you snowball.’ The rabbit squeaked, happy with its new found identity and pecked her on the cheek. Asper set Snowball on the ground and it hopped towards a rose bush to snack on a rose or two.
‘It seems to really like you.’ I watched the rabbit munch greedily on a red rose as it hopped off to meet a small group of hares and bunnies.
‘Animals like me.’ She shrugged ‘plus, all the animals I treat seem to be very loyal to me.’ She paused ‘Want to see something?’
‘Sure.’ I replied in the same tone. What could she possibly surprise me with now?
She brought her fingers up to her lips and whistled. There was a pocket of silence till the bushes started rustling. I half expected a chipmunk to pop out.
Turning her attention to the rustling bush, she pat her hands on the grass in front of it, luring the animal out. I caught sight of golden eyes before it pounced.
‘Bloody hell!’ I all but screamed. A white tiger cub rolled into the clearing. Its body was long like a leapords’, with its long tail swishing behind it. There was something different about it though, it had wings.
‘Aren’t you an adorable widdle tiger? Whose my little tiger?’ Asper tickled the animals’ stomach and talked in baby voices. She noticed my reaction and picked the cub up, its wings fluttered around clumsily. ‘This is Orion.’ She jiggled the animal.
‘That thing has a name?!’ I gapped.
‘Excuse me, don’t hurt his feelings!’ She frowned and set the cub on her lap. ‘Show some respect. Orion is my familiar.’
‘A familar.’ I parroted.
‘Yeah, like Xavier has you and stuff.’ She scratched the cub behind its ears and it purred.
‘I am not his familiar, I’m his best friend.’ I retorted in my defence. She gave me a look. ‘Besides, demons don’t have familiars. Pets, maybe, but familiars are unheard of.’
‘Well, if demons could have familiars, you’d definately be one.’ Orion meowed in agreement. ‘A perfect one.’ She added when she saw my face.
I shrugged, signalling the end out our conversation.
‘When did you get him?’ I cautiously raised my hand to pat the animal. It jerked, causing me to flinch before purring and rubbing its head against my hand.
‘About a month ago.’ A brush materialized in her hand and she brushed the cub. ‘It must have been drawn to the magical energy of this place.’
‘And did it even occur to you that it could rip your throat out when it’s older?’ I snapped. She was being too careless. Orion looked up and hissed at me.
‘Cobalt, look at him. His loyalty is mine. I’ve dreamt of him, I knew he was coming. I am his guardian, just like he is mine. We take care of each other.’ She kissed the cub between the eyes, calming it down. ‘Besides, he is bound to me just like I am to him.’
‘Bound?’ I wanted to laugh ‘Milady, animals don’t sign contracts.’
She glared. ‘Familiars don’t. ‘ she corrected. ‘But I know demons do.’ Her voice was laced with venom and the wind pick up slightly. I backed up. She noticed what was happening and sighed, closing her eyes and calming herself.
‘Look. Orion is mine. The gold cuffs around his paws and tail are engraved with my name. Don’t try to get it off, it’s magically bound. Trying would be like trying to baptise a cat.’ She glared at Orion and it glared back, as if to say ‘I warned you so’. ‘And I am his. I am marked.’ She lifted the hair from the back of her neck, revealing a tattoo of a crest. The crest that was present on Orion’s cuffs as well. Orion exhaled proudly at the declaration.
I sat back, taking everything. Studying Orion, I noticed why I was so instinctively afraid of the creature. Orion was a Shatter Lynx, a mythical creature even fabled in Iroria. It was said to reside in the sky temple protecting Furie the Wise as well as the fountain of life. Over the thousands of years, many had tried to acquire a bottle from the fountain. It was said that the water could enable an immortal to die and reborn on Earth exactly as him or herself.
But Shatter Lynxes were ferocious and grew to be gigantic. Armies had decended upon the well, the only obstacle that stood in their way being only the Lynx. Yet none had ever emerged with a drop of the essence.
There were few that had seen Lady Furie in the flesh. They said she was the most beautiful of females and her voice sounded like running stream water. She recused them from the clutches of the Lynx, commanding it to back down and it had, like an obedient puppy.
Furie warned that she would spare them and release them as messengers. As a warning to never set foot near the sky temple. The soldiers had scrambled out of the temple just before the connecting stairway collapsed into rubble and the sky temple was engulfed by cloud and fog, never to emerge again.
I stared at Asper as she rolled around in the grass with what would soon grow into a fearsome beast. A beast that would grow big enough to take on legions of werewolves, vampires, dragons and demons. The thought made me shudder yet I felt safe, knowing that it will never come to harm sweet Lady Asper.
‘Fold your wings Orion.’ I heard Asper scold. The cub was standing up and tall, wings spread to full length defiantly. It jumped and fanned its wings towards her, creating a gust that knocked her from her sitting position. I laughed and she blushed in embarrassment.
‘That’s it. If that’s how you want to play…’ Asper got up and dusted herself off. The cub readied itself and proned down to leap and pounce. I held my breath. Orion may be small but it was still fairly large enough to injure Asper.
Her hands flew up to slice the air horizontally in Orion’s direction. The cub leaped from its position but it couldn’t get away in time and the ripples of wind threw it off balance. He rolled and got back into position, wings still lengthened, taunting her. It leaped for her and she dodged, twisting the wind to help her maneuver. With such command over wind, she could probably manage flying without a problem.
Then it occured to me. They were sparring. With such sessions, both parties got stronger as much as they bonded. The magic strength was suffocating. Asper jumped with great height thanks to her command over wind while Orion pounced. For a moment, I saw the intention to kill in both their eyes.
After a few leaps and pounces, Asper smirked. With her eyes locked on Orion’s paws and a swish of her finger, the earth beneath Orion turned into water and he fell in. For the first time in their spar, Asper leaped forward and slammed her hands onto the ground. Tendrils tore through the ground with a mighty rumble and started throwing itself over the beast, coiling and tightening. Orion could only managed a whimper.
‘I win.’ You said simply as she crouched down to tickle its chin. ‘Now fold your wings.’ Orion huffed and nodded. Asper stroked a tendril and it started to slither back into the ground. Once Orion was free, he swatted her hair with its, messing it up.
‘What the-‘ Asper clawed at her hair ‘what was that for?!’ Orion grunted and shoved his tail in her face. Her eyes widened.
‘Oh Orion!’ She grabbed his tail this time. ‘Cobalt, come look!’
I hopped off the swing and approached them carefully. ‘What’s up?’
‘This!’ She lifted Orion’s tail to my face. ‘This is up.’
I stared at the tail cuffing. It had three gems crafted into it. One was green, the other brown and the last, blue. I raised an eyebrow.
‘You don’t get how big this is!’ She was jumping ‘look. This jewel symbolizes earth, this one means wind and the last one probably means water.’
‘Because you used that spell on him?’ I folded my arms.
‘I dont know, probably.’ She shrugged ‘the thing is, every jewel Orion gets, he acquires a new skill. With the earth gem, he can climb trees, walls, anything. Wind has blessed him with speed, agility and flight. Water… I’m not too sure yet. Ability to swim, I’m guessing.’
‘This is… a lot to take in.’ I said slowly.
‘I know.’ She smiled sympathetically and turned towards Orion who had obediently folded his wings and nested on her lap. She lifted its chin and pressed her forehead on Orions’, muttering what I presumed was a spell. Orion started to shimmer, his stripes started to fade and his wings shrunk into his fur. He glowed brighter and brighter, so much that for a moment, I couldn’t see his form anymore.
Slowly the light faded and I was met with the fluffiest cat I had ever seen. I had to choke back a laugh while Orion glared.
‘Boys, play nice.’ Asper scolded. Orion mewled and snuggled onto her. ‘Pampered bastard.’ She muttered and Orion grunted.
With Orion in Asper’s arms, we started back home. Asper waved her hands and the garden shrank back down into the earth. I rubbed my eyes and she giggled.
Back at the door, I tripped on my shoe laces, turned and glared at her. She mouthed a ‘what’ at me. I opened my mouth to speak but she shushed me, pointing at a curled up Orion. Sighing, I nodded.
‘Asper! You’re home! Oh, and this handsome young man would be…?’ A voice called from behind us.
‘This is Cobalt, mom.’ Asper whispered and rocked Orion. ‘He saved Orion from a speeding car.’
‘Cobalt? What a weird name to have. Car crash? Oh my!’ Asper nudged her mother and lifted Orion a little into her view. ‘Asper, I don’t understand why you baby Ollie so much. She’s a cat. She’ll grow to sleep 75% of her life away!’
‘Mom!’ Asper hissed and rocked Orion when he stirred. ‘Orion is a tom-cat. He doesn’t like being called otherwise!’
‘Well, he’s pretty enough to be a tabby, ey?’ She nudged me and I grinned. I liked this lady already. ‘Call me Nora. I’m Asper’s mother.’ She stuck her hand out and I shook it.
‘Better get in, it’s freezing out here. Catastrophic weather in Paris recently.’ She trotted up the steps to unlock the door. I didn’t want to tell her that the only catastrophe she had on her hands was her foster daughter, who was positively fuming.
‘You pamper him too much, Milady.’ I thought out loud.
‘Orion is just a cub. He’s still growing.’ Asper defended. ‘And he’s my responsibility.’
‘But he’s just a cat!’ I astonished.
‘Familiar!’ Asper whipped around. ‘Orion isn’t ‘just a cat’ okay?’ She raised her hands and did a physical invertert comma.
‘He’s part of me. Part of who I am, and I will NOT let you talk down to him like that!’ She huffed, hands balled into fists by her sides.
‘You’re wasting your energy on him!’ I threw my hands up. ‘You should be working on trying to get back Iroria, and restoring the peace in yhe demon kingdom!’
‘Wasting my energy?’ Her voice was low and I knew I had blurted out something terribly wrong.
‘Going back to Iroria? ‘ I spotted a crack creep up the side of a mirror. Asper was shaking, desperately trying to gain control again. She took a step forward, backing me into a wall.
‘In case you haven’t realized, Xavier wants me dead and I have a feeling he wants you dead as well. I am working on getting stronger, spending so much energy masking our magical scents and traces in fear that when he comes-and oh, he will come- we have time to run. Time to pray.
‘This isn’t about going back to Iroria, Cobalt. The moment you found me, our run had commenced. Xavier could be here, somewhere, somehow and he will personally behead us. Maybe you’re fine with dying by your best friend’s hands but I will not allow myself to fall to that male chauvinistic pig.’ She spat the last words.
A loud mewl echoed through the hallway and Asper’s attention snapped away from me. I released a breath I didn’t know I was holding.
‘There, there, mommy’s coming!’ She jogged up the stairs but stopped three steps later and turned around. ‘You’re either with me or against me, Cobalt.’
Another mewl. She turned and shot off down the corridoor.