TWENTY FIVE

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THE MOMENT RAVENNA blinked, the ghost girl vanished from sight

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THE MOMENT RAVENNA blinked, the ghost girl vanished from sight. Sunlight began to sink, slowly moving behind the tree-ridden horizon line. A frown tugged at her lips and she forced her gaze downward, toward the food in front of her. She continued to slice at the vegetables, ignoring the chill trickled down the length of her spine.

She couldn't help but wonder about the ghost girl's origin. There seemed to be a story behind it, and it was a mystery as to how she was tied to both Caelan and Vyses. Neither seemed willing to talk about it either. Vyses had simply insisted that Ravenna was crazy, that the ghost girl was a figment of her drunken imagination. Caelan at least acknowledged the ghost's existence, and didn't make Ravenna feel silly about seeing her. Yet he quite obviously had no intentions of elaborating on his ties to the ghost girl, or how she died.

A small part of her thought to ask around the town. Surely, someone in town would know something about the girl. Even if no one had actually seen the ghost, there had to be some sort of record concerning her death. It was possible that the bookkeeper might know, especially considering his friendship with Caelan.

Ravenna pursed her lips. Depending on what Caelan had planned, she would try to make a trip to the bookkeeper the next day. There was a good chance that Caelan would be too busy with his spell to worry about her in the morning. Once there, she could ask about the ghost girl.

It wasn't long before the food was finished. She piled a mound of rice and vegetables on two plates, drizzling a spicy sauce over the concoction. As she set the plate down in front of Caelan, she noticed his nose begin to curl. "What is this?" he asked, seemingly unimpressed.

"It's good," she insisted. She sat down across from him and began to eat. The food was just as good as she remembered, and bursts of nostalgia flooded through her. The pellets of rice mixed with the steamed broccoli and carrots, almost melting in her mouth. The sauteed peppers and spicy sauce added so much flavor, as explosions of spice detonated with each bite.

Caelan was reluctant to eat. He eyed the dish, wary and untrusting. The more that he chewed, however, the more that he seemed to like the meal.

"That girl was outside again," Ravenna commented after a few moments of silence. "She was just on the edge of the property, near the trees."

Caelan didn't seem surprised. His jaw clenched slightly, and he took another bite of his food. After a moment, he murmured, "She will leave us alone in due time. Do not worry about her."

"It's hard not to," she grumbled under her breath.

A smirk tugged at his lips. "Are you afraid of little ghosts?" he asked teasingly.

Ravenna pressed her lips into a wrinkled line. The last time that she'd interacted with the ghost girl hadn't been pleasant. Even with her ice, Ravenna had felt helpless against the angered spirit. She wasn't sure that she wanted to explain that to Caelan however. It would only give him more fuel to tease her with.

Instead of answering, she ducked her head and continued to eat in silence. Once all the food on the plate had disappeared, she stood and gathered her things, depositing the plate into the sink. "I cooked, so it is your turn to do the dishes," she told Caelan.

He hummed in response, watching her with curious eyes.

She bid him a goodnight and walked up the stairs, being careful to avoid the windows. The last thing that she needed to see was the ghost girl's transparent face, or her darkened, soulless eyes. As she entered her bedroom, Ravenna took a seat in her chair, pulling her knees to her chest. The world around her fell silent and, if she listened carefully enough, she could hear Caelan shuffle around downstairs. For a moment, Ravenna just sat there, slowly looking around at her surroundings. So much had changed in the last few months, especially between her and Caelan. He seemed so much more open now, so much more approachable. Even his teasing had become lighter almost, and much less insulting.

She sucked in a breath and leaned backward in the chair. The cushions shifted behind her, conforming to her body. Her hands lifted. She carefully started making the correct signs for the defense spell. The ice immediately formed in front of her. It shook violently, and then slowly solidified into a perfect, spherical shield. The sheet of ice remained solid in front of her, and completely unmovable. A breathy exhale escaped her. She lowered her hands, and the shield vanished.

She could do it. Now that Caelan couldn't tease her, the spell seemed so easy to do. That notion alone helped rebuild her confidence. The goal now was that she needed to be able to do it faster, and under pressure. Caelan had attempted to teach her that earlier, through his verbal and physical attacks. His method had somewhat worked, as she easily mastered the hand motions. Yet the shield refused to solidify, or allow itself to be used as serious means of protection.

At the back of her mind, Ravenna couldn't help but wonder whether Vyses would have approached the spell differently. He wasn't anything like Caelan, and she was certain that their teaching styles would be entirely different as well. She couldn't help but ponder whether or not his approach would have worked better with her.

Lifting a hand to her face, she rubbed at her eyes. A headache brewed within her, crawling across the edges of her mind, looking to attack. She still felt as though Caelan wasn't teaching her anything, at least not at the pace that she needed. In the last few months, she'd only really learned the one spell from him. The other spells that she knew were ones that she'd picked up while pouring through those scrolls. None of those spells were entirely helpful, nor was Ravenna positive that she could perform them yet. Her ice sometimes had a mind of its own.

Hugging her knees to her chest again, Ravenna rested her chin on the bones of her kneecaps. Despite the changes she'd seen in Caelan, she couldn't help but be frustrated with him. She wanted to know how to control her powers, and to be able to prevent accidentally killing the people around her. Yet there was no way that she could be sure that Vyses would be a better teacher for her.

A small part of her knew that both would not want her to train with the other, as well. It was very clear that neither liked each other.

Ravenna's chaotic thoughts egged on her oncoming headache. She sighed and buried her face into her knees. The idea of choosing one over the other bothered her. At least with Caelan, she knew she would eventually learn more, and that her opinions were considered to be somewhat valuable. She also felt that she couldn't betray him, not after all he'd taken her in and given her a home.

The sense of realization settled deep within her bones, and Ravenna looked upward. Her vision was blurred, and the room around her seemed to pulse in tune with her headache. There was an easy solution to her problem, although she would have to be sly about it. She could still take lessons from both Vyses and Caelan.

It was just imperative that neither find out about the other. 

Hey guys! Notice anything different? 

Oops! This image does not follow our content guidelines. To continue publishing, please remove it or upload a different image.

Hey guys! Notice anything different? 

I noticed some authors adding these cute graphics to their stories and (considering I am majoring in graphic design) I wanted to jump on board the graphic train. Let me know what you think! And/or if you find any issues with them. Your feedback is greatly appreciated! <3

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