Nathan frowned, shaking his head. "Should we stop and deal with him?" He asked quietly, feeling uneasy about it still. He hated not being able to see spirits.
Juliet nodded, smiling softly. “If you would like to do it now. He would follow us all the way to the edge, I’m sure.”
Nathan shrugged. "I'm not the one in charge here, you are." He told her, crossing his arms. "I don't care either way, as long as your plans don't hinder me from being able to protect you."
Juliet shrugged, moving from him to sit under a tree. She yawned as if this was no big deal, and waited patiently for the boy to catch up. It wasn’t long before she saw the familiar blue mist, though it was oddly translucent and partially indistinct. He was a very dull blue, not electric like some of the others she had seen. The boy stopped short, his face not detailed. Her eyes widened slightly. “A…faceless…” her breath turned a bit rapid. She had heard of faceless ghosts—but she didn’t know why they were like that or how they acted.
Nathan frowned. "Faceless?" He asked, his eyes on her but his ear toward the spirit. He had little experience with faceless spirits, and didn't know a ton about them. He felt extremely uneasy.
Juliet nodded, keeping her eyes locked on the spirit. "He has no face... The others told me that happened... But they wouldn't say why. It's rare. I've never encountered one before." She watched as the boy came closer, an nondescript animal of some sort guiding him. She hadn't noticed it before. She couldn't even sense it. Then, she realized she couldn't even sense the boy anymore. She got up on her feet. "I... It... It's nullifying...I can't feel anymore..." She was terrified now. She had never been without her gift. It had always been there, and without it she felt... Dead, almost. She noticed more blue lights advancing through the trees. "Y-you were right; we need to go now. Right now," she started backing away and turned to dash off. She couldn't feel them, but somehow she knew they weren't good. It was like... They didn't have feelings. It was like they didn't actually feel pain.
Nathan pulled her into his arms suddenly, his body covering her as much as possible, protecting her soul. He muttered in an ancient immortal language, warning them to leave. He'd done this before...dealing with 'blank' souls. He was confident it's work, or at least slow them enough for them to leave.
(( SPRING BREAK! I shall be on faithfully for the next twelve days. Let’s get this storyline moving on… ))
Juliet suddenly found herself cocooned in his arms. In any other circumstance, she would’ve freaked out at a stranger hugging her. In this situation, however, she didn’t mind it too much. In fact, she buried her face in his chest. He helped her to stay calm, or as calm as she could be with the faceless, empty souls.
The group of spirits paused at the words, seeming to consider Nathan’s warning. At the least, the stopped in their tracks, backing up slightly, though still staying in a decent proximity.
Nathan scowled, sensing them still there. "I said leave!" He snapped, the power of his soul bursting out around them like fire to chase the spirits away. He kept his protective hold on Juliet, wanting nothing to happen to her.
The spirits hesitated once again, until his power reached them. Though they felt no pain and were unseeing creatures, they knew fear and had to worry about being destroyed just like any other soul. They retreated slowly.
Juliet felt herself returning, her gift becoming useable again. She allowed herself a shaky sigh. It would be awhile until she got over this encounter. That had scared her more than anything else, except the dark force.
Nathan grunted. "That took more out of me than I expected..." He muttered, before looking down at her. He looked older again, mostly because at the moment he couldn't help it. "Let's get you home. No more going into the unsafe places if you can help it, understood?"
After taking a moment to calm herself, Juliet looked up at him. He looked older now, like he was in his thirties. It was strange seeing him like that, after deducing he was in his very early twenties. Obviously, the anti-age thing wasn't a concrete spell. She pushed the train of thought aside, though.
She hesitated slightly before nodding submissively. "Okay... I'll try to stay in the light areas." She really didn't like not being able to see the only things she ever connected to. Yes, it was dangerous. She knew that. But it was the price to pay, because no one else understood her. No one but those who had died. She prepared to follow him out of the woods, so she could go home...
Nathan sighed and kept an arm protectively around her as he led her from the forest. He slowly aged backward to his usual appearance, only just fast enough to be noticeable. He sighed in relief as they came into a safer area.
It wasn't long after that before her home came into view, and he stopped a few houses away. "This is where I must leave you, unless you want to explain me to your parents."
Juliet looked at her house with disdain. She was staying with her mom at the moment, on the fancy suburb where all the houses where different but looked all the same. Where everyone's grass formed perfect crisscross patterns, and there were no weeds or brown patches, and no children playing happily or toys in the yard. Where the only dogs were purebread and dull, listening obediently. Like her mom expected her to. She was nothing but a poorly trained golden retriever, appearently. "It doesn't matter. I don't give a dam.n what she thinks," she muttered under her breath, walking on. She tried to figure out where she'd run away to this time. She couldn't stay with her friends, because their parents would far her out now. The woods hadn't worked out, either. But she couldn't stay in the house.
Nathan hesitated but fell into step a few paces behind her. "I notice you dislike staying with your mother..." He mumbled, stuffing his hands in his pockets. He sighed. "You could come to my place if you wanted. I don't mind. It's got a spell on the area, making it so only friendly and neutral spirits and forces may enter."
Juliet paused to look back at him. On one hand, he was a stranger. Not only that, but he was an inhuman stranger, an immortal something that she didn’t know anything about. On the other hand, he had saved her twice… and she wouldn’t have to stay on the street or with her mom. And, there were spirits there! You can guess which option she was leaning towards. “Yes… I hate my mother deeply,” she mumbled. “Are you sure you’re okay with that? I don’t want to intrude…”
Nathan grimaced. "I've come far too close to becoming a hermit by living on my own for so long." He told her. "I'm perfectly fine with having a little company, as long as you act as a good guest. You can get some belongings to bring with you before we go." He nodded toward her mother's house in a gesture.
Juliet nodded slowly, following his gesture. “Alright… I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
She walked to the house, unlocking the door and hoping to infiltrate and escape unnoticed. Of course, she wasn’t that lucky. Her mom cornered her, barraging her with questions and working hard to intimidate her. Where have you been? It’s late. What have you been doing? Who have you been with? Have you been drinking again? Doing drugs? Getting a tattoo? More piercings? “God, mom! Just leave me alone!” She trudged up the stairs, diligently hiding a smirk. Her mom still hadn’t found out about the tattoo she got a year ago. The words were written permanently on her lower hip. In black ink, cursive script. No one is free, even the birds are chained to the sky. She truly believed it, too. Even the dead still wandered the earth, unable to break the bonds holding them back.
She got her backpack and shoved some stuff in it: clothes, toothbrush, the usual. She grabbed her phone, too, and went back down the stairs in a flash. She escaped her family and reappeared by Nathan, backpack slung over her shoulder.
Nathan waited patiently until she returned, catching the sound and feel of a dog sniffing him, but there was no dog he could see. When Juliet came back, he quirked a brow at her. "Tell me, is Fido back?" He asked, gesturing generally where he was sure the dog was. "Or am I just hearing things?"
The dog spirit whined and looked at Juliet. Nathan was sure he recognized it somehow, but didn't bother putting much thought into it.
Juliet smiled at the spirit. She always trusted animals, as they were a great judge of character. Even more so when they're dead, she trusted them, because you only have one chance after you die. Once something destroys your soul, that's it. You're done. Off to the unknown fate of destroyed souls.
"Yes, he's there," she confirmed, lowering herself to the dog's level. "Though, he seems upset. Can you hear him whining? You should pet him."