Friends and enemies
Aarina stretched herself and pushed the blanket away. The soft sunrays and the azure blue sky promised a beautiful day ahead. With a yawn, Aarina grabbed her towel from the closet and made her way to the bathroom.
Before she exited the room, she looked back at the young Whitefang that peeked out from under the blanket. “Don’t worry, sweetie. I’ll be back soon. I’m just taking a shower.”
The spider clicked its fangs.
“I know you don’t like that, which is why I’ll be going on my own.” Aarina smiled reassuringly. “I won’t be long.”
While making her way to the bathroom, she heard voices coming from up ahead the hallway. Instantly her hair stood on edge. “Witch…”
In an instant her mood darkened and she swept into the shadow of an opening. Black threads spun around her body, transforming the towel into her battle suit, albeit without her usual armor. To make up for that, Aarina guided her threads so that multiple layers formed over her chest, ultimately taking on chitin like properties.
Slowly, being extremely cautious, Aarina extended her senses.
There she was!
Walking together with the nun and the son of Hades was a witch. ‘I’ve seen her before… outside in the gardens… blasted creature!’
Then the group had passed and slowly Aarina regained control over herself. Her battle suit receded into black dust, which was soon scattered by a wind gust from a nearby open window. Aarina stepped out of the shadows and glared after the group, her eyes boiling with hatred. “I will make you pay…” she promised herself, before heading back to her dorm. She didn’t feel like showering anymore.
Once back in her room, she quickly proceeded to get dressed in her usual uniform. The Whitefang clicked a few times, when Aarina held out her arm for it to climb up.
“I know… there’s a witch in these halls…”
The spider crooked its head and clicked twice.
“No, I did not confront her. She wasn’t alone.”
Again two clicks.
“Of course. I’ll make sure to take you with me, should I decide to confront her.”
Satisfied the Whitefang settled onto her shoulder.
“Let’s get going. Lady Raeka will be waiting already.” Aarina moved to the door. Quickly she shot a glance at Ineen, but the Mock Elf was still sound asleep. “You know, it’s weird… we’re sharing this room for more than two weeks now. Yet, I’ve never even talked to her. The only times I see her are when she’s asleep in her corner.” Aarina shook her head. “What a strange girl…”
“Hey, Aarina!” Someone shouted from behind, shortly before Aarina could enter the chemistry lab.
Slightly annoyed she turned around.
“You’re also in the chemistry club?” A young girl with greyish-silver hair asked. She wore the usual uniform of the academy, a dark purple cloak and some kind of Tiara with grey skull ornaments attached to the sides. Aarina recognized her as one of the liches that she had seen during her exploration of the academy.
“Hello Renago.” Aarina smiled. “I assume you are here for Lady Raeka’s lesson too?”
“I told you already, Aarina. You don’t have to call me ‘Lady Raeka’.”
The two students spun around and faced a smiling woman. She wore a green top, tight blue jeans and high black boots. Additionally a lab coat hung loosely around her shoulders.
“Just Raeka is enough.” She said, while brushing her orange hair back and adjusting her safety goggles on top of her head.
Raeka stopped in front of the two students. “Does any of you know if Ineen will come around?” she asked.
“Ineen?” Renago asked.
“I don’t think so, La… Raeka. When I left the room she was still sleeping.”
Raeka shrugged. “Her problem then. She’ll be missing out on all the fun though.” She indicated the door. “Shall we?”
After entering the lab, Raeka gave her two students a list of compounds they had to mix. When Aarina complained about it being absolute basic chemistry, Raeka simply answered that she first wanted to see how Aarina and Renago would handle the basics, before allowing them to work on more advanced experiments.
With some slight grumbling Aarina accepted her fate and set out to work.
After one hour Raeka left the lab, since the headmistress wanted to talk to her about something, so Renago and Aarina were left alone in the lab.
“Uhm… Aarina…?” The lich asked.
With a sigh Aarina looked up from her work and glanced over to Renago. “What is it?” She snapped.
“C-could… could you help me with this, p-please…?” Renago asked, slightly blushing. “I’ve never done this before.”
Aarina took one last glance at her own work to make sure everything was running smoothly, before moving over to her classmate. “What exactly is the problem?”
“I… I can’t get this Solution working correctly with the other one and…” Renago trailed off and stared at Aarina’s shoulder. “Hey there.” She smiled. “Also interested in chemistry?”
Aarina frowned and turned her head. Upon seeing her companion she softly shook her head. “I thought I told you to watch the titration to make sure everything is running smoothly.” She scolded.
Ashamed the spider clicked its fangs.
Instantly Aarina’s expression softened and she brushed her hand over the spider’s back. “Look, I know that it’s boring, but someone has to do it apparently. And Renago asked me to help her out, so that leaves only you.”
The spider clicked again and glanced at the lich. Aarina followed its gaze and a soft grin slipped onto her face. “Don’t worry, I won’t take long. But now that you’re here anyway you can stay. The titration won’t blow itself to pieces if nobody looks after it for a few minutes.” Gently she lifted the spider onto the table and turned back to Renago.
“Alright, where were we?”
Renago ignored her question and continued to stare at the spider for a few more seconds, before glancing back at Aarina. “Y-you… understand what i-it says…?” she stuttered.
“Why of course I do. She’s my friend after all!”
“S-sorry…” Renago muttered and focused her attention back to the experiment. She gave Aarina a quick explanation what she was trying to do and listened carefully when Aarina explained the mistake she had made. However, despite her intentions, she couldn’t help but glance back to the Whitefang every now and then.
“Uhm, Aarina…” She asked after a few minutes.
“Don’t mind me asking, but… what are you?”
Aarina didn’t reply for a while, her face a blank mask without emotion.
“I… I can understand, if you don’t want to talk about it, I’m just- AARGH!” Renago screamed.
Instantly Aarina whirled around to see what had happened, ready to defend herself should it be needed. Her reflexes were incredibly sharp. The long time alone in the wilderness had seen to that.
Her gaze passed around the room for a quick scan, before settling on Renago. It only took Aarina a few seconds before figuring out what had happened. Instantly she let out a series of words in a strange, spitting language, all the time advancing onto Renago.
“Ccht schticko Chauw-tsch! Krrm ksish rakh!”
Momentarily forgetting about the pain, Renago stared at her.
Angrily Aarina grabbed Renago’s arm and quickly removed the spider’s fangs from her hand. While doing so, she continued to snarl in and spit at the young Whitefang, who guiltily stared down.
When she was done with her scolding, she turned to Renago. “I apologize for my pet. She doesn’t know that her poison is deadly to other people. She’s only used to me.” Aarina stepped forward to examine Renago’s hand. “It’s supposed to be a sign of affection, but due to her poison it’s not always taken as one.”
After examining the wound for a few seconds, Aarina began chanting in a low voice, causing the flesh around the wound to clench up. A heartbeat later a gooey, silver substance erupted from the wound. Aarina quickly closed her fist around it, resulting in the poison dissolving into her skin. “There we go… that should’ve done the trick.”
She looked at Renago. “Are you feeling alright?”
Instead of answering Renago simply stared at Aarina. “What… how… How did you do that? Can you teach me? That was awesome!”
“E-eh…?” Aarina was completely taken aback by the sudden outburst.
Renago grinned and reached out to pet the Whitefang. Aarina was about to object, but the spider did not attack the lich. Instead it pressed itself against Renago’s hand and clicked its fangs softly. Much like a cat would purr when its fur is ruffled.
Dumbstruck Aarina watched Renago pet the spider.
“Is something wrong?” The lich asked. “Don’t worry, I’ll be more careful this time.”
Aarina shook her head. “That’s not what I meant… you’re the first person beside me that has been able to stimulate this reaction. Usually she’s too scared to even move away from my shoulder, let alone allow someone else beside me to pet her. The love bite was surprising already, but this…” She shook her head once more.
Renago giggled. Then her face turned serious again. “What kind of magic was that?” She asked. “I’ve never seen or felt it before… It’s no human magic. Nor does it feel similar to elven or undead magic… It certainly feels very old…”
“It’s an ancient magic.” Aarina said. “And it’s related to the question you asked before.” Upon Renago’s frown she smiled a bit. “The question about me. What I am. I suppose Samusagi was right. I won’t be able to hide what I am. Not for long…”
Aarina took a deep breath, before continuing: “I… I’m an Arachna.”
Renago stood still and quiet for a moment. Then she exclaimed: “You're an Arachna t-th-that's... that's awesome!” She started running around in circles, squealing in delight and hugging the Whitefang. “That’s so cool! I’ve always wanted to meet an Arachna!”
She stopped in front of Aarina and stared at her with big, sparkling eyes. “Can you teach me to fight? Please!”
“Err… I…” Aarina stuttered. She had completely lost her reserved stance, blown away by Renago’s giddiness.
The lich took a long time to calm herself down again and even then she was grinning like a Cheshire cat. After collecting herself again, Aarina couldn’t help but smile at Renago’s giddiness and eventually agreed to help her out with her training.
Together Renago, Aarina and the spider finished the list of compounds. When Raeka returned, she was extremely satisfied with the results and promised her students that they’d be working on more advanced things not too far in the future.
Outside of the lab Aarina parted from Renago, again promising that she’d help her with her training.
On the way back to her dorm, Aarina caught a familiar scent. Instantly her hair stood on edge and the Whitefang on her shoulder clicked its fangs, ready to attack any moment.
She halted on her path when she saw another student walking towards her. “Get out of my way, witch!”
The other student stopped in her path, her arms folded. She had recognized the tone in Aarina’s voice. “And why should I?” she challenged. “The hallway is big enough for both of us.”
Slowly the girl stepped forward, her action mimicked by Aarina. The air between them was burning with tension and both students were ready to unleash their powers.
“What on earth is your problem?” The girl asked. “I haven’t done anything to you.”
“You’re a witch.” Aarina merely replied. “I’m not particularly fond of witches.”
“Maybe the witches aren't particularly fond of you..? Stereotyping isn't nice!” She shook her finger at Aarina. “Tsk, tsk, Ma'am.”
Aarina shrugged. “Whatever you say. Could be that it's me after all. But consider that every witch I've met so far had ill intents either on me or my friends.” Slowly she circled around the girl, never dropping eye contact.
“Well, I sure don't have any of those! I just want to live, and do magical thingies!” The girl replied and mimicked Aarina’s action.
“And I'd advise you to that. None of the other witches eventually survived messing with me.” Aarina replied in her usual reserved tone.
“Are you threatening me?”
An icy smile crept around the corner of Aarina’s mouth. “Take it as a warning.”
“Bitch please!” The witch replied, whirled around and walked off into the direction Aarina had come from.
Aarina glanced after her for a second, before resuming her own path. She knew with absolute certainty that this would not be their last encounter. And the next one would be no less hostile.