AntoniaAs I lunged forward to avoid the oncoming arrow, I caught a glimpse of the archer. I know her! But from where? She must be from the academy, but who is she? Does anyone hate me enough for this? To try and kill me on my winter vacation? It seemed a little dramatic. And considering that Winter Vaca is about the only time we actually get to leave the academy, it would be nearly perfect. Disappear during break and no one would ever know. Especially with over 2000 students gone over break. One going missing wouldn’t really be noticed.
I saw her running down the hill toward me with her knife. I cursed my snowboard and started to crawl/ shuffle toward the trees. My pursuer threw her knife. It hit my snowboard between my feet. I reached over to detach the knife from my snowboard. I threw at my would- be- assassin. She fell. I turned back and began to detach my feet from the board. When I had freed myself, I went back to where she had fallen, but all I saw was a trail of blood on the snow.
As I started to follow the crimson trail, I fell due to my twisted ankle. I once again curse my snowboard. I got up and slowly limped back to the lodge, knowing I needed medical attention and knowing my boyfriend would worry about my being gone so long.
* * *
Back at the lodge, my boyfriend, Logan, was worried about me. He said he’d been scared and about to launch a search party to find me. He asked me tersely where my snowboard was, I told him I lost it. I shrugged, saying I had to take it off to walk properly, I had gotten mad and that I just put it down and didn’t want to carry it all of the way back. He sighed and said that we’d get me another one. It wasn’t important as long as I was safe, he said.
Back in my room, or our room, since Logan and I shared one, I went over what had happened on the slopes in my mind. I tried to remember who the would- be- assassin was and wondered why she would want to kill me. I wondered if she was a student at St. Katherine’s Academy for Gifted Teenagers, or an assassin someone else had hired to kill me. That would mean that it was someone who had money and didn’t want to do it themselves, or couldn’t. That they couldn’t bring themselves to do it, so thy hired the woman who had fallowed me.
I lay back on the satin covered pillows on my bed. Goddess, my ankle hurt more than I thought it did. I pulled off my rabbit- fur lined boots and leaned over to inspect the damage to my left ankle. It was worse than I had thought. It was clearly broken, as I could see the bone poking against the porcelain skin there. There was a slow but steady stream of blood coming from a wound a bit further up my leg. I pulled off my pants and threw them toward the trash bin. Oh well, I’ve got more.
I tripped over to the bathroom to clean my leg, bandage it, and hopefully poke my ankle back to where it should be. Oww, that’ll hurt. Sitting on the counter, my butt in the sink, I found a first aid kit. I wiped the blood off my leg with a black towel, lucky me, and then eased myself from the sink to the toilet. I wet a new towel and started to actually clean my leg. There was a lot more blood than I originally saw. After I’d washed it, I wrapped it in gauze, and then put a large bandage around it.
Now for my ankle. I pulled my foot up into my lap, wincing the whole way. I jerked my foot and screamed. I stifled my scream so Logan wouldn’t hear. Blood started to seep through the bandage on my calf. I wrapped another bandage around it.
I put my foot on the floor. No! Not a good idea. I sat there for a few minutes, until I heard Logan’s footsteps and his humming. I put my foot down again. This time, I didn’t feel anything. That might not be a good thing. Oh well, can’t help that now. I walked; limped really, out to the bedroom where I heard Logan. He jumped when he saw me come into the room. He was sitting on the bed with his head in his hands.
I sat down next to him, put my head on his shoulder and started humming the song I’d hear him humming before. He smiled and half laughed. I hugged him and he tilted his head to the side so he could kiss me. I laughed when he tickled my nose with his hair. He smiled a real smile this time. He’s got that perfectly crooked smile that just makes you melt, and guess what, he’s all mine.
When it was time for dinner, we order up room service so we didn’t have to change and go downstairs. Dinner at Avoriaz was formal, even for a group of high-schoolers and the rest of the vacationer. There are all sorts of interesting people: teens, senators, assassins, writers, directors, important business people… Anyway, dinner is better observed when beds and TV are added, and kissing. Mmm… never tasted so good. The Kobe steak was okay too.
Later that night, after Logan had gone to sleep, I got up and limped over to the window. I don’t know why, maybe I expected to see her there, watching. But, I knew she wouldn’t be, I guess. Part of me hoped, almost anyway, that I would see her, so I’d know who she was. “Hopes soon die when put up against reality.” My father always told me that when the dinner banter turned to my dreams of universities and schools. “You’re not good enough,” he’d say. But he’s not here to say that now. He died the year before my being accepted to St. Kathy’s. Strange how my mental voice sounded almost exactly like him. Echoes of “not good enough” and “hopes die with reality” whirled around in my already crammed head. I needed to talk to someone.
I tiptoed over to the door, and went into the hallway. I walked down to Strider’s room and knocked on the door. Juliet answered the door. She was wearing a teddy with a pair of boxers. Strider came to the door behind her. I could see the marks on her thighs. She’d been at it again. As she stood in front of me, I noticed the razor blade in her hand. Juliet walked past her into the room, leaving me and Strider alone.
“Hey, Viv,” I said, “got time for a night cap?” I laughed weakly. “I’ve got something to talk about; I need a head to bounce ideas off of.” She smirked and stepped aside so I could pass.
After I’d told them about my would- be- assassin and downed about four night caps (really strong drinks), I lay down across the bed and waited for a response.
Juliet was the first to say,” So… you saw a girl on a hill try and shoot a bow at you, then she chased you down with a knife, that right?” I nodded, and then looked at Strider. She looked at her feet, then looked up at me and said, “I think I know who it is. Describe her again.”
“Blonde, slim, slightly crooked nose, tallish, blue eyes… violent? … Um… She was left handed with a good aim. She was wearing a black ski jacket, you know, the puffy ones,” she nodded, “and jeans with black boots.” I lay back down. “Well…”
“I’m thinking, shush,” She sighed then, “its Ceri Heath. You know, one of the scholarship kids from out of state. It has to be her. I don’t know of any other girl who wouldn’t get a nose job. It has to be one of the scholarship kids. Then you take the physical stuff: hair, build, eyes… it has to be Ceri. “
“I thought her name was Ceridwen. Oh… ‘Ceri’ is the nickname. Do you know her?” I got up and started walking around the room. When Strider started singing the song I’d been thinking about all day, I knew I’d been humming. I started singing part of it too, singing around Strider to harmonize. Follow me, everything is alright, I’ll be the one to tuck you in at night, and if you want o leave, I can guarantee, you won’t find nobody else like me. We laughed after finishing the chorus, knowing that Juliet was watching us with a bemused expression on her face.
We sat down and talked for a little bit. It was good to do this, have a girl’s night. I needed this. Juliet brushed her finger over the raised white scars on my inner arms. I pulled my sleeves down so my arms were covered. My eyes flashed. I glared over at Strider’s arms, then her legs. Juliet got the point. ‘Don’t mess with Toni.’ I moved over t sit next to Strider. Juliet walked over and sat on a red velvet settee by the balcony doors. Strider glanced at me then at Juliet. She turned back to me to shrug.
“You never answered me. I asked you if you know her. Please, Viv, I need this. You’ve always been my profiler. You come up with characters for my stories. I need your help.”
“Yes I know her.” She spat. “She bugged me until I agreed to bring her on this trip. Gid got me to bring her. She just wants to be one of us, like that’ll ever happen. Find the weakest link. Apparently, that was me. If she… Oh, Goddess. Is it my fault she’s here like this? What is I’m the one who brought her.” She sagged. Juliet went over to her and put her arms around her, then glared at me. I flipped her off; I wasn’t going to put up with her ego crap. I needed Strider or I could be killed. And Strider would never forgive Juliet if she thought she had anything to do with me dying.
Strider got up and pushed Juliet away. She walked over to the balcony. She hopped and sat on the balcony railing, the swung back until she was hanging with her legs hooked around the railing with the rest of her over the balcony, hanging upside-down. She started crying softly and chanting, “I love the moon and the moon loves me, Night has come, night will go, Night will return by her. Blessed be.”
Juliet sighed, “You broke her. You finally broke her. Who the heck is Nyx?” She was only half sarcastic. I thought about explaining that Nyx was the Goddess of Night and that Strider was praying, but… I felt like punching her in the face.
I walked over to Strider and nudged her foot, and asked, “How do you welcome your Goddess, Viviana Grace Diniar?”
“With perfect love and perfect trust. Blessed be.”
I sat on the railing beside her and swung back until I was hanging next to her. She looked at me and smiled. She then turned back and started the chant again. “I love the moon…”
I thought about flipping and just ending this all by falling and dying when I saw a glint off the trees surrounding the lodge. About halfway up a tree, I saw a white light, could be blue. It cast a faint glow, allowing me to see who was holding it and what it was. It was my tracker, looking at her cell phone, sitting in a mile-high sycamore. What- the- frick? Does the world have a big enough loony bin? What the heck did I do? For this? Did she love Logan or something? Did she envy me for my friends, grades, etc.? What the heck did she want from me? Would she stop? Would I die?