Chapter Sixteen: Aura

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Aura still couldn't believe that it was possible to have this much food. It was always filling the table, and not even with simple foods, but with rich meats, hearty vegetables, and delicious drinks.

It was her first instinct to eat as much as she could as fast as she could, but she learned quickly that was not necessary. For what seemed like the hundredth time, Aura wished that Aerik and Aela were here eating this delicious food with her, growing strong and healthy.

"Ladies, your attention, please." Pan rose from where he had been lounging against the wall. The candles illuminated his face, accentuating the sharp cut of his jaw.

Aura could not decide how old he looked. From his bright red hair and youthful body, she would have assumed that he was in his mid-twenties, but his eyes spoke differently. The forest green held far too much wisdom, far too much pain. But there was this incredible coldness to them as well. A coldness that made Aura quickly avert her eyes.

"You have trained for just over a week now. Your progress has been noted and reported to Madame Rose. She is most pleased. Tomorrow I will be transporting you all to Allegora where you will then be given further instructions."

Suddenly, Aura's food was no longer appetizing. For some reason, she had allowed herself to believe that they wouldn't actually have to do anything. That they would eat well, train their minds and bodies a bit, and then be done with the bizarre adventure.

It had been a foolish hope, a silly one, in fact. Glancing around at the other faces at the table, Aura saw that she wasn't the only to lose her will to eat. Blanca especially seemed frightened.

"Will we have to collect provisions beforehand?" was Verre's calm question. How she managed to remain so collected during such a traumatic moment was beyond Aura. The odds of them all being brutally executed by the royal family for treason were exceedingly high, and that was if some deadly magical creature didn't kill them first. But Aura would rather risk the chance of dying if it meant that Aela and Aerik would be safe.

"Yes, prepare as best as possible. I will make one last supply run before we leave tomorrow. Any weapon preferences? Excluding Verre, of course." Verre smirked at that comment and nodded in agreement.

A weapon? Aura didn't know what to say, as weapons had been made illegal in Oobay. Of course, that hadn't stopped gangs from creating weapons from anything they could find, and, if nothing else, their fists. "A sword, if you can find one." Swords, a useful and generic weapon. She couldn't go wrong with one, right?"

Cerise quickly asked for a double-bladed ax.

Blanca hesitated, finally answering quietly, "A bow."

Aura was surprised. Did Blanca know how to use one? She was a nobleman, and they usually knew very little about weaponry, especially the women.

As if noticing everyone's confusion and surprise, Blanca quickly explained. "I always wanted to be skilled in some form of combat, and archery was the only one my father deemed lady-like enough. I'm a pretty decent shot."

Everyone scrambled back as she spoke, fearful of coming in contact with the poison. Blanca blushed and shut her mouth, the poison fading away.

The weapons sorted out, Aura pushed away from the table, feeling anxiety gnaw at her insides. She needed to be alone so she could sort out her emotions, knowing that she was most likely going to end up having a good, solid cry. She was far too young to have to be worried about dying--she was only sixteen!

Collapsing down onto her bed--miserably noting that it seemed lumpier than usual--she allowed her body to relax, and so the tears began to fall.

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