Chapter Twelve: Aura

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Aura had seen many strange things in her life, but being stuck in Denthlire with other magical humans--while being trained to steal a magical pair of slippers--was something she never expected herself to be doing. At all.

She took a swig from one of the smaller flasks Pan had provided, allowing herself to relish the sweet coolness of water. People had said Denthlire was quite literally a nightmare, but Aura found it to be remarkably pleasant compared to Oobay.

Placing the flask on the smooth floor, Aura noticed Verre's penetrating stare. Of all those in the room with her, Verre was the most intimidating and Aura had seen some frightening people. The woman was tall and all muscle, two things Aura was sorely lacking. She was quick, but because of a poor diet, her body was pretty frail, though she often tried to deny it. Verre motioned her over, worry knotting in Aura's stomach.

"You. You're Aura, correct? I have seen everyone else's abilities, except for yours. What is it, exactly, that you can do?" Verre flicked her fingers, a small glass crystal forming in the palm of her hand. It was beautiful and perfectly shaped; glittering coldly in the soft light.

No nonsense or meaningless talk. Verre was all business, something that seemed obvious, now that Aura thought about it.

"Mine is glass, if that wasn't obvious already. I find glass to be the perfect weapon." Verre smiled, causing a slight shudder to run down Aura's back.

What was her reason for asking her? Verre was not the type to just chat away. No, she had an ulterior motive, one that was no doubt beneficial only to herself. It was a negative assumption, and she had only known her for an extremely short amount of time, but Aura had never been able to afford to think positively. Especially now.

"My ability is sleep. I can reach into the minds of others and force sleep upon them. It's a handy gift, especially for stealing." There was a small flicker of interest evident in Verre's grey eyes, but it disappeared almost instantly.

"Sleep? That is fascinating. Does it work for everyone? Can a person fight against your command of sleep?"

Verre's intrigue was confusing, especially since Aura had never really thought of the questions she had just asked. Was it possible for someone to rebel against sleep? Pan had managed to, but only for a short time. If he hadn't teleported so quickly, she most likely could have forced him into sleep. Looking around, Aura realized she could command them all to sleep with just a thought should she want to. The idea was both exhilarating and frightening.

"One can resist for a time, but eventually you will tire and sleep." Aura allowed a half-smirk to creep across her features. If living in Oobay had taught her anything, it was the fact that you obeyed when forced, and then stabbed them in the back when you could. That was the law in Oobay. Verre was terrifying, but Aura needed to show her that she wasn't afraid to stand her ground.

Verre watched her silently for a moment before nodding. "You will suffice. Now, you seem intelligent and agile, but we need to shape those raw elements into something more . . . something better. Do you trust me?"

Aura considered for a moment. Verre was extremely skilled and Aura could use some training, especially since there was a great chance that they could all be brutally slain during this heist. "I trust your skill, but I don't trust you."

Verre chuckled, spinning a glass shard expertly. "Smart choice."

***

The banquet table was full to bursting with food, but Aura was too sore, too exhausted, to even notice. She had expected Verre to be a tough trainer, helping her to achieve her true potential, but she had not expected her to have been a cruel monster who had worked her to the bone for two hours straight. Finally, the delicious smell of food began to revive her senses. Her weary eyes took in the brilliant display. There was steaming hark, glistening in a golden sauce; blood-red crescent berries, their leathery skins nearly bursting; and all manner of vegetables, each cooked in a different way.

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