The days had passed since the attack in the manor.
Aileen and I had gone back to see if there was anything we could take from the manor that could be useful in the cabin. To our surprise, when we got there, all we saw was a burned up, empty building. My eyes widened in surprise and I could see Aileen's face pale when she saw the destruction to her childhood home.
There was yellow police tape around the building, trying to keep everyone out. Aileen ignored it and walked towards the building before walking inside as she analyzed everything around her. I walked hesitantly behind her as I watched her closely. She was walking stiffly and with an incredulous look on her face and behind her eyes, I saw guilt.
She must have been feeling responsible for causing all of this destruction on the manor. But if she hadn't, the survivors that managed to escape the claws of the monsters wouldn't have been able to get away. I knew there were survivors because while Aileen insisted on staying in the manor to look for anything that could help us while I left to go find a store nearby to buy some groceries so that we could at least make ourselves some sandwiches.
The town seemed haunted as well. No one stepped near the manor and everyone pretended as if it weren't even there. I walked towards a small store in front of the manor and started grabbing all the food supplies we could afford with our money. We didn't have much but it would have to do for now.
At the cash register, the old woman greeted me with a faint smile and started scanning all my items. My eyes drifted over to the racks to my side and a newspaper with the picture of the Stars Orphanage was plastered on the front page.
"I'll be taking this as well," I said as I grabbed the paper.
After paying, I headed back towards the manor, making sure no one was watching. I walked along the side of the building and headed towards the entrance at the back when I saw Aileen sitting there looking pale and shocked.
"Hey," I had muttered as I sat down next to her.
Aileen didn't say anything as she fidgeted with her hands on her lap. "Did you find anything?" I asked softly.
Aileen shook her head and turned to me. "We should go. I don't want to be here any longer."
Without waiting for my response, she got to her feet and quickly rushed into the forest. I sighed and followed after her. I knew she was still grieving, it had only been two days since the fight. We hadn't commented anything about falling asleep together but I didn't see anything wrong with it and neither did she. Aileen had already shown up two nights in a roll in my room and I didn't mind. She needed me and I was happy to give her the comfort she needed.
When we had gotten back to the cabin, Alex was staring out the window with a thoughtful look on her face. My compass was open between her hands. "Is there something wrong?" I asked her.
Alex jumped at the sound of my voice, she hadn't realized Aileen and I had walked in.
"No, I just... it doesn't matter. How's the manor? Did you find anything?" She asked as she eyed us closely.
Aileen sighed and shook her head before excusing herself and Alex turned to me with a puzzled look in her eyes. "Did I say something?" She asked slowly.
"No. She feels guilty for what happened. We need to be patient, she's still grieving," I whispered as I pulled out the newspaper from the bag and placed it on the table.
Alex gasped when she recognized the building on the front page.
"A spontaneous fire burned through the popular orphanage with no clear apparent evidence as to what started it. Neighbors reported screams in the manor just after the fire alarm went off and while no one saw anything, the children claim there were creatures inside. More than half of the staff and orphans are still missing but the police won't declare them dead until the end of this month if they don't appear.
The headmistress of the orphanage is also missing, leaving the townspeople heartbroken for having lost such an altruistic and kind person who probably was trapped inside when the fire started. That much is clear from the evidence in her office.
The rest of the survivors will be taken to other orphanages where they will remain until further notice. In the meantime, the manor is still under investigation as the police try to find out exactly what happened," Alex finished reading and she set the newspaper down with a frown on her face.
"Then the monsters were killed in the fire and their bodies were turned to dust," she said thoughtfully and I nodded my head.
"Either that or some of them escaped and fled the manor. I don't think they're still down there in the tunnels. There's no way out," I said with a shrug.
Alex sighed and got to her feet. "Then that explains why Aileen came back like that. I'll go talk to her. But you're right, she does need time to... get over Barbara's death."
Alex disappeared through the hallway and I made us sandwiches while I eyed the compass on the table. I had tried to find a clear path towards the next Elemental but there was no silence. I didn't know how long we could stay here and I wasn't sure I wanted to.
Aileen and Alex came out later almost in time for dinner. Aileen didn't say anything as she grabbed a glass and filled it with water.
Alex took the sandwiches I made and thanked me before handing one to Aileen and sitting down next to her at the table. It bothered me seeing Aileen so defeated. I wanted to help, I wanted to be there but it was like she was trying to push me away.
Maybe I should give her some space, I thought and I sighed before deciding to go out on a run.
The air was cool and the light breeze made it the perfect weather.
I looked past the lake and considered running around it. I had never gone as far but I didn't think there was anything wrong. Even if there was, I had my blade with me.
I started at a slow pace and soon, I was running around the lake. A smile played on my face as I let my powers out slightly and made the water move with my fingers. A small water horse stood from the water and neighed happily at me as it followed my pace. I smiled and kept on running, making sure not to fall.
Not long after, I reached the other end of the lake and I stopped to look back at the cabin. It was just a small speck in a big canvas. The sun was shining behind me, beginning to descend and I knew I had to make my way back before it got dark.
Taking a deep breath, I started trotting again and didn't stop until I reached the cabin.
Once I got to the cabin, it was dark and the chilly air made me shiver. I walked into the cabin and found Alex and Aileen had made some sort of soup out of a can. My stomach rumbled and I grabbed a plate before filling it and eating.
After eating my dinner and washing my plate, I headed over to the bathroom to take a quick shower. Neither Aileen nor Alex were anywhere to be seen but I guessed they were just trying to spend some time together.
Grabbing my clothes, I headed for the shower and turned it on. I got in, not bothering to wait for the water to warm up. I shivered as the cool water touched my skin but it quickly heated up and I sighed.
A moment later, I was out of the shower and dressed as I headed back to my room while I dried my hair. To my surprise, Aileen was there sitting on my bed wearing her pajamas. I looked at the clock and noticed it was a bit past ten.
"Hey," I said with a smile before I hung the wet towel on a hanger.
"Hey, did you have fun on your run?" She asked in a soft voice and I shivered slightly. For some reason, she had that effect on me.
Nodding my head, I sat down next to her. "Yes, it was entertaining. You should come with me tomorrow. There's a lot to see," I suggested. Maybe a change of scenery would help ease her mind and make her feel more like herself again.
Aileen nodded her head and smiled brightly. "Sure, I'd love that."
A silence fell between us and I couldn't bring myself to ask her if she was here for a specific reason. I didn't want to scare her off.
"Um... I know you might think this is strange but... can I spend another night with you?" She asked sheepishly and I saw a slight blush cover her cheeks under the dim light.
My eyes widened and I quickly nodded my head. I took her hand gently in mine and kissed it softly. "Of course. You don't even have to ask."
Relief covered her face and she sighed visibly. "Really? You don't mind?"
I shook my head and chuckled. "No, I don't. Actually, I like sleeping next to you. I sleep much calmer than I have ever slept before."
Her blush deepened and she nodded her head. "I know what you mean. It's just... the first night, I had very bad nightmares, well they were memories of what happened. I couldn't sleep and some part of me just brought me here. I'm sorry, I should have asked you before."
"Really, it's no problem. I'm just happy that you're opening up to me. I have barely heard you say anything since... the attack," I said slowly as I chose my words carefully.
Aileen nodded her head and sighed. "I know. I'm sorry I've been so distant. It's not fair to any of us. I just needed some time to process everything. But I'm here now and I'm trying to move on... for Barbara. That's what she would have wanted."
Gently, I ran my finger over her hand and smiled at her. I was happy to hear she was going to work on moving on. I was about to open my mouth to say something when she interrupted me.
"I also wanted to apologize to you for acting so strange in the morning. It just took me off guard seeing the manor destroyed and know that I was the one who caused it," she admitted with a frown.
Pulling her into a hug, I held her in my embrace and rubbed her arm comfortingly. Tingles shot up my fingers like sparks and I had to keep myself from fidgeting. Aileen seemed to notice and she chuckled but didn't say anything.
"You know, it wasn't your fault. Heck, you probably saved all those people who were in there trying to escape. Thanks to you, they will have a new life somewhere else. To me, that's worth more than that starched building," I said with a smile and she let out a soft laugh.
"I know. I didn't mean to lose control of my powers but... I'm glad I did. Now I'm surer than ever of what I'm capable of," she said with a wide smile and I kissed her temple.
She giggled and shook her head before turning to face me. "I'm feeling kind of tired. I apologize beforehand if I fall asleep while we're talking."
I rolled my eyes and wrapped the blankets around us. "No need, it's been a long day."
Aileen let out a scuff and shook her head, "more like a long week."
A comfortable silence fell between us and I turned off the lamp on the nightstand before turning to look at her. "Tell me more about you when you were little. The only stories I know are because Barbara brought them up," I said softly.
Aileen raised an eyebrow and looked at me thoroughly before responding. "Alright. But only if you do the same. An eye for an eye," she said with a wide smile.
I nodded my head and extended my hand, "deal."
She laughed and shook my head before thinking about what story to tell.
"Hmm, let's see. There was this time when I was trying to prank Alex and Barbara ended up having to cut her hair," she said with an amused look in her eyes and I couldn't help but stare. She looked so beautiful when she was so at peace, so happy and carefree.
As she told me her stories and I told her mine, midnight was soon upon us and I could hear the exhaustion in her voice as she told me about the time she tried to bake Alex a chocolate cake.
She nestled herself on my chest and closed her eyes and her words started to drift off as sleep consumed her. After a minute, she had gone to sleep and I was in a trance looking at her and feeling her so close.
I couldn't believe the effect she had on me. Her mere presence was enough to cause a million emotions in my mind. Her soft breaths echoed in the room and I tightened my arm around her, wanting to feel her closer to me.
Soon, exhaustion began to reach me too and I closed my eyes. In an instant, I was gone as well.