Escrita por: Willysbigsis
Henna was behaving in such an odd way it was impossible not to notice. Drew made sure to keep an eye on her at all times. It wasn’t too hard, since she was his best friend. He just needed to stay a little bit closer to her. For a good reason.
His friend was, for a lack of better words, bright. She was popular, she was beautiful, she was smart, and she was the best warrior-in-training they had. She could smile away sadness, he swore. But Henna was also extremely emotive and was prone to being careless and getting in trouble. Who could blame him for worrying if she acted weird?
Drew followed her around all day. He practiced sword katas, he ate next to her, and he joined her for history class even though he normally would take arts instead. Henna seemed not to notice him until the class ended, when he raised his arm to answer a question. She looked at him with her eyes so wide he knew there was something going on.
“Are you okay, Hen?”
“Yes”, she drawled on, hesitation on her face. “Have you finally seen how interesting history is?”
“Of course.” Drew tried to make his voice sound dry. He could respect his history, but he wasn’t about to spend anymore hours studying it than he needed. Henna owed him one for that afternoon, already.
Henna smiled at him, sheepishly. “You know me too well. I’m fine, though.”
Drew put on a blank face. “Sure. Let me know if you need anything.”
His friend grinned and bent over to put her notebooks away with such focus he knew not to leave her alone for long. He shuddered when the smell of fire invaded his memories. Henna was growing up to be fantastic, but she was a disaster machine sometimes. Something was wrong, it was her fault, and she wanted to fix it – and she would need help.
Drew’s confidence in his diagnostic didn’t waver with the passing of time. He stood by Henna’s side as they did their chores. He followed her for dinner. He walked her home. He crouched down next to the flowering bushes in her garden. And waited.
Sure enough, about an hour or so later, he got to watch his friend’s shadow sneaking out of her window. When she started towards the forest, Drew could only sigh, letting an amused smile grow on his face. He had been right.
Sliding out of the shadows, he followed her. He could tell when Henna heard him – and how he envied her senses! – because her shoulders relaxed slightly.
“I don’t remember ordering an escort for tonight?”
“You didn’t.” Drew pointed his chin up, daring her to send him back. “I figured it would be too bad if you died being dumb on your own. It’s not very heroic, you know?”
Henna didn’t send him back.
She thanked him with a smile. “I suppose it is always better to have someone smart around when you’re hunting.”
The boy squinted up at his friend. She was dodging around the point. Whatever she did must have really embarrassed her.
“What did you do this time?”
Her face burst in red. Drew snorted. He had got it right again.
“It really wasn’t my fault!” Henna whined, as they walked further into the darkness of the forest. “I was angry, talking to myself, and an Imp overheard! I-”
“An Imp? We’re hunting an Imp?” Drew stopped walking in surprise.
Henna grimaced. “It made me relive today. I want to get it over with before it turns into a time loop.”
Drew nodded, “It’s not my favourite beauty routine.”
They shared a smile. Henna owed him big time, but that was fine. She never failed to compensate for her messes, and Drew could admit he kind of liked to go in those adventures with her. He wanted to see how the time loop thing would go, too. He decided to go along with her plan. He was several meters away from bed already.
The children searched under rocks and inside hollow trees, but they couldn’t find neither the Imp nor his trace – Imps leave a rather odd magic impression wherever they pass, and that is the kind of thing canmores are naturally sensitive to. They had to go back to the village empty handed.
Drew held Henna’s hand to call her attention. It was too dark in the forest for him to make out her face, despite his enhanced vision, but he didn’t need to see it to know she was frustrated.
“If today repeats again, you will come to me earlier, and will have more time.”
She tightened her hold on his hand, and nodded, but it wasn’t an agreement. Drew held a sigh and prayed that he acted sooner the next day.
Henna was behaving in such an odd way it was impossible not to notice. Drew made sure to keep an eye on her at all times. It wasn’t too hard, since she was his best friend. He just needed to stay a little bit closer to her. For a good reason. Henna was prone to in trouble. Who could blame him for worrying if she acted weird?
Drew followed her around all day. He practiced sword katas, he ate next to her, and he decided to join her for history class even though he normally took arts instead. Surprisingly, Henna grabbed him by the wrist and turned on her heels towards the forest.
“Don’t ask,” she interrupted him as he opened his mouth to speak. “It is hard enough to explain… I have a problem. I need your help. We’re hunting an Imp.”
Drew felt his jaw drop. Leave it to Henna to mess with one of the trickiest creatures to deal with. Still, he could feel how tense she was and kept his scolding to himself. Henna knew it was a stupid thing to do. He would be a good friend and help her.
“What kind of problem are we talking about?” he asked instead.
Henna turned a little to look at him, “A time loop. It’s the third time I live today.”
Drew was mildly impressed, “How do you keep getting into these situations?”
“Eleven years of age and I still don’t know”, she chuckled.
The young canmores walked around, getting deeper and deeper into the forest, following a faint magical trace. Henna explained she met the Imp a little before the end of their morning practice, and the trace had completely disappeared by night. They needed to hurry and find the Imp before he went too far.
Soon enough, they got to a clearing that sparkled from a distance. The area was covered in colourful stones and, curiously, spoons, and it shone with reflected sunlight. In the middle of it all, lay the Imp, face down. Henna quickly took her dagger and ran to attack him.
The Imp jumped out of the way, with a shrill laugh. Drew took his own dagger out, then, and joined his friend in the clearing. “You used your magic without making a deal first, Imp.”
The Imp smiled wide, showing thin pointy teeth. “Ah, but it was a gift!”
“I don’t want it!” Henna shouted.
The children watched as the Imp blinked lazily like a cat, “No take backs.”
Henna puffed up her cheeks, ready to explode or attack, she didn’t often think twice, but Drew lifted his hand and cleared his throat. The girl frowned at him, huffing, as he walked closer to the Imp, dagger down by his side.
“I’ll be asking one more time: lift your magic from her.”
“No, thank you”, the Imp stuck out his tong, “Don’t wanna.”
“Because there are too many of you warriors,” the Imp nodded, bobbing so low it looked as if he was bowing. “At least this way it is controlled.”
Henna opened her mouth to snap back at him, but Drew smiled at her, and she knew to let him handle it.
“What if we made a deal, me and you?” Drew asked, pursing his lips.
The Imp stood up to his full height, that wasn’t so much, and squinted. “Are you offering to get rid of a warrior, warrior?”
Drew took a deep breath, ignoring how his friend’s wide eyes, and nodded, “I am. Then we will have one less warrior and you will lift your magic from Henna.”
“Very well. We have a deal” grinned the Imp. “Who are you removing?”
Drew smiled, and lifted his dagger, showing it to the Imp hilt first, “Me. I give up on being a warrior.”
The Imp was delighted, and took the dagger, making it into fine dust and blowing it away. Henna whimpered, hands over her mouth, and Drew felt a bit bad. But the Imp was already going away – they never stay in the same place for long – and the shiny stones were puffing away, and it meant he had done his part too.
Henna rushed to her friend, hugging him with tears threatening to spill. “Why did you do it? Why would you ever do it?”
Drew winced, pushing her back a little to see her face. “It’s fine, Hen, really.”
The boy held Henna’s hand and started following the path back home, softly explaining his actions, to calm his friend down.
“I’ve been talking to my parents about the Claiming. About what to choose. I know I’ve been training with you all this time, and I know I’m good at it… But to do it for the rest of my life? I don’t know. I didn’t know, that is. Now, I only have one option.”
Henna searched his face for any lie or doubt, but he knew she was only feeling guilty. She had to understand he was serious. He wouldn’t ever hurt her like this, about something so important.
After some time, Henna nodded, accepting his change of heart, and looked down. “I wish you had told me, then. But I’m glad you’re okay. I’m sorry”
“It’s fine”, he squeezed her hand. “I’ve got your back”
Drew smiled at her and waited until she raised her head to smile back. They were fine.