"Aeris!" My throat feels raw from shouting, as my feet pound against the pavement, my eyes scanning the skies for any sign of where the thing took her.

"Aer- Oof!" Bouncing off whatever I ran into I fell to the ground.

Across from me, I notice Jaxen pushing himself up. My eyes narrow as I stare the Aetherian boy down.

"You." I spit at him, as I too get up from the ground.

Jaxen smartly backs away, putting a healthy distance between us. I gesture towards the sky.

"Do you know what the hell that thing was?"

"I-I... I'm not sure."

I throw my hand up. "Gods! Of course you're not sure. We'll just add this to the list of things you don't know about."

Shaking my hand, I pace, trying to remove some of the frustration welling up. "Why was Aeris even out here in the first place, huh? If you had just left already, she wouldn't even have been here."

My knees give way, and I sink to the floor as I think of our last conversation. What if those are the last words I ever get to say to her? I bury my face in my hand, as I remember how angry I'd felt towards her. Behind me, I can hear Jaxen step closer.

"I'm sorry, I... I tried to help her, to get her to run, told her to get out of here but-"

"She didn't leave." My head snapped around to face Jaxen. "If you even knew her, you would have known she wouldn't leave. That fact is how you're still standing before me right now."

Slowly, I push myself up. "You were here. You could have done something, anything. Tried harder to help her."

I jab a finger at Jaxen's chest, "She deserved to be helped, and yet you didn't. You should have stopped it from taking her."

"I'm sorry. I-I panicked and didn't know what to do, I really tried."

"You're sorry? You're sorry. Well, I'm so happy you're sorry, it doesn't bring Aeris back though. This is all your fault. All of it!" Without thinking, I shoved Jaxen, and he fell back onto the ground.

"Don't ever come back here."

Turning away, I stop for a moment. What am I supposed to do now? I had to do something, anything to help Aeris, but I didn't even know where she'd been taken. Where was I supposed to start? How was I going to explain to Sylvie and Ebba what had happened when I didn't know myself?

Forcing one foot in front of another, I started to walk home. I had to keep moving, or I would collapse, and I'd be no good to anyone.


Clenching my jaw, I looked back. Jaxen pushed himself from the ground, blood running down his arms.

"I have this, this necklace. I don't know what it is, or where it came from or how I even have it. But it stopped the creature, twice I think. Take it, please. Use it to get Aeris back."

Standing up, Jaxen lifted the chain from his neck, but the circular stone didn't budge. Looking down, Jaxen pawed at the pendant, but it was as if it had fused to the skin on his chest.

"It's stuck. Just give me a second."

Rolling my eyes, I quickly step forward and grab hold of the stone. Jaxen pulled back, and instead of the pendant coming loose in my hand, my fingers slipped off, and he fell backwards. Leaning over Jaxen, I looked at his chest. White burns and puckered pink flesh ringed the skin around the stone.

Beasts of Steel and Bone *WATTYS WINNER*Read this story for FREE!