Images flash in my mind; visions of fire and burning and agony. I feel myself slowly surfacing out of unconsciousness and back into reality. But this no longer feels like reality, I try to convince myself that it is a nightmare, one I would wake from and it would only be my first day at the Academy, my first day with my new found friends. There would be no attacks to investigate, no F.E.A.R. reports to hear during dinner, and I would be as normal as possible. The thought of going back is a relief at first, but the moments I have with Tommy would be nothing more than a memory that will slowly fade until it doesn't exist at all. Is it worth it? Losing Tommy in order to save those who were attacked, to save myself?

I open my eyes to see the fire classroom before me cast in shadows with only the lumias to light the space. Quickly I begin to panic, trying to move to the door, until I realize that an invisible force pins me to the stone wall in the very back of the classroom.

"Good, you're awake." The ice in Professor Ward's voice sends chills down my spine. He steps into my view, still wearing the same black jacket he has been wearing before, the pendant glistening in the light. "I was beginning to fear I had given you too much chloroform."

"Why can't I move?" I demand, using all my strength to pull my arm away from the wall, but they remain in place.

"Don't worry. It is just a spell I am using to keep you from escaping again." He looks up at me, his eyes soulless "Don't want you running off to your friends and telling them about me, now do we?"

"It's been you." I say aloud, still trying to convince myself it is true. "All along you have been the one attacking students, getting into mine and Cora's head. You work for F.E.A.R."

"Correct." He confirms, pacing in front to me. He looks as if he is in deep thought, finally looking up at me, a murderous look in his eyes. "You have discovered a great deal. I might as well finish connecting the pieces for you. It's not like you're going to be around much longer anyways."

"You're going to kill me?" I asks. My heart is racing in fear, thoughts of ways to escape cross my mind, but first, I need answers.

He laughs. "No. Not necessarily."

"What's that suppose to mean?" I wonder, scolding myself when my voice shook. Professor Ward seems to take satisfaction in it.

"You and your friends discovered the book about the transfer. I've been looking for a sustainable host to bring Aerona Vlasta back, but of course you already knew that."

"Why go after those who specialized in water?"

He smiles at me. "I was a personal 'friend' of Aerona Vlasta, though she did not specialize in an element, I knew the element she favored was water. I went after them first, failing each time. So they could not tell anyone that I was the one who attacked them, I used a potion called the Draft of Sleeping Death to put them in their sleep. When it became clear that you were not going to specialize, I decided that you were the perfect host. But thanks to Tommy," he says his name as if it taste bitter in his mouth. "You escaped. I wasn't going to go after you at first, but I decided to use a few of my specialties- getting into one's mind- and plant dreams there. Do you remember the one you had your first night here?"

"Yes," I answer, keeping my voice steady. "The one with the burning house and a figure standing in the fire."

"I was surprised you didn't realize something before." he says, more to himself than me.

"Realize what?"

"That wasn't just any dream, Isabella. That was a memory, a memory of how your parents died."

If I wasn't already paralyzed against the wall I would have frozen. I lost my words and stare at him blankly. My mind circles around things I can no longer comprehend, nothing seems to make since.

"You killed my parents?" I question, fear transforming into rage.

"I'll admit," he begins, looking down solemnly "It was hard. I knew your mother when we both attended the Academy. She was a beautiful and gentle woman, but she was a Dark Elemental Hunter, so killing her was necessary."

"You're a heartless monster!" I exclaim, "You won't get away with this. My friends will come for me and then I'll tear you apart myself."

He laughs again. "You stupid girl. You have been out for hours, it's almost midnight. I went down to The Hall to tell them you had gone to bed and not to worry. They have no clue you are here, and when they realize what has happened, it will be too late."

I bite my lip to the point I can taste blood, I can't let him see me smile. He has no idea I am suppose to meet Tommy at midnight, and when I never show, he will come looking for me.

"May I continue?"

"Go on." I demand.

"I gave the pendant to Gabriel to throw suspicion on him, and it was luck that you and Tommy began to suspect Levi. I would use the secret passageways to escape and avoid being caught, I attacked your friend because she was getting far too close to the truth. Everything was becoming easier and easier, and I was planning on getting you tonight, but you discovered the truth, and now here we are."

I am running out of things to ask. All I have to do is keep him talking until Tommy finally realizes what is happening. But what if he doesn't? What if he just thinks that I'm not going to show up, and he'll never know the truth until I'm gone?

"So was that you? Outside my window back in July?" I ask, the memory of the figure resurfacing.

Professor Ward looks at me and- for the first time- confusion is written all over his face. It wasn't him, then who was it?

"I have no idea what you are talking about." He confess, "But I can tell you now, there are many F.E.A.R. members who have an eye on you."

"Why? What do they want with me?" I inquire.

"I don't know. Why don't you ask-" There is a loud bang that echoes throughout the silent castle, startling both of us. Professor Ward looks around wearily.

"Ask who?"

"There is no more time," Professor Ward says, an edge of panic in his voice. He removes the pendant from around his neck. "I must bring Aerona Vlasta back. I'm sorry this had to be you, but you are doing something great!"

"We must have different views on what is considered great."

The voice that echoes through the classroom is familiar; almost angelic sounding in my relief. Professor Ward spins around as a blast of wind sends him flying, toppling over desk and into the wall. My body goes limp as I crash to the floor, falling painfully to my hands and knees. Tommy is by my side seconds later, helping me to my feet.

"Move an inch and you will be nothing but charcoal." I hear Levi say from a few feet away. I look up to see him standing over Professor Ward, a ball of fire in his hand.

"Are you ok? What did he do to you?" Tommy questions, holding me tight against him.

"I'm fine." I assure him, reluctantly pulling away. Once again I demand the answer from Professor Ward. "Ask who?" Tommy and Levi look at me quizzically.

Professor Ward smiles up at me, "That question," he pauses, "is one I will leave unanswered."    

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