Several weeks passed and Mason got used to us - not that he really had much of a choice. We explained to him the basics of our magic so he wouldn’t be surprised if we decide to use them in front of him. We didn’t get into many details, though he didn’t question us any further of what we told him. Maya assigned him the chore duty of sweeping the floors which ended up being a stroke of good luck because Maya usually mops, so they've been working together. As far as sweeping and mopping go, that is.

I quickly finished dusting the corners of the hut, making sure to get every last cobweb in the process. I looked over to Neva to see how she was fairing in the cleaning process and it looked as if she was just about done cleaning too. I chucked the duster into the cleaning basket, stepping off the ladder.

"We're done cleaning!" I shouted to Maya, putting the ladder back into the small closet. "I'm going to the meadow!" I announced, heading towards the door.

"Don't be home late!" Maya called and I rolled my eyes. Like I was ever late.

"Kay mom!" I joked and headed out the door.

I headed toward the meadow, skipping and humming to my own tune. Since Mason came to live with us, I haven’t really gone to the meadow because Maya’s been all bossy, making me do everything while she talks to Mason about his past and where he’s from and such. As happy as it is because they make one cute couple, it’s all the more work for me. Plus not to mention Maya won’t tell me anything about him! I grunted, playfully kicking a small rock at the trunk of a tree.

I sat in the middle of the meadow, a breeze blowing through my hair, slightly messing it up. I didn’t bother to fix it though, as I stared down at my wrist, pulling the neatly folded bandage out of my pocket. A little part of me hoped that I would see him here, just to, you know, give him the bandage back. And stuff. I stuffed it back into my pocket and lied down on my back, closing my eyes. I felt Neva land on my nose, giggling at her feet that tickled it. I opened my eyes and while sitting up she flew onto my finger flapping her wings a couple times, signalling that she wanted to play. I just smiled as I let out a few squeaks of my own, dozens of butterflies coming from the forest to surround Neva and I.

“There you are, Neva,” I smiled as she flew off my finger to play with the other butterflies.

I twirled a couple times, the butterflies circling around me. I looked at all of them, the most of them I came to know when we first moved to the hut because Neva was a tad lonely and we ended up finding them inhabiting the outskirts of the meadow. I suddenly heard a branch snap and I quickly turned to face it, a gust of wind blowing my hair into my face. I tucked it behind my ears quickly, only to see the faint outline of the man that I needed to give the handkerchief back to. I just stared at him as he took a couple steps closer, staying a bit cautious.

“Hi,” I said casually.

“Hey,” he replied, seeming kind of flustered.

There was an awkward pause between us, all the butterflies besides Neva scattering away at the sight of the man.

“Oh, I um, wanted to give this back to you,” I pulled out the handkerchief out of my pocket and began walking over to him, stopping about a foot away from him.

I held it out for him to take, but he just shook his head.

“You can keep it, I don’t need it as much as much as a certain someone,” he said sarcastically, pushing my hand back with his own. I felt my face flush at the contact but I ignored it.

“How’s your hand doing?” he asked.

“It’s a lot better, thanks,” I smiled, rubbing my wrist. “So what brings you here? Still looking for monsters and demons?” I mocked. He frowned.

“He,” he paused to point to Kai. “Dragged me here,” he said giving a look to the butterfly.

I giggled; Neva quickly flew to Kai, Kai flying towards her just as fast.

I stared as the two of them mingled together, flying off to distance themselves from us.

“What will we do about those two?” I asked rhetorically. He smirked in response.

A few seconds went by silently as we stared at the coupled butterflies.

“Let me introduce myself,” He then said holding his hand out, waiting for me to shake it. “My name is Lin,”

“Candace,” I said cautiously, doing a little curtsy with my skirt instead of shaking his hand. He looked a little caught off guard at my gesture but quickly regained his composure.

“It’s a pleasure,” he said with a nod of his head.

“Yep!” I joyously agreed.

“So do you believe me yet?” I looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

“Believe what?”

“That I won’t hurt you,” he prompted.

“Well, you only cut my neck, poisoning me,” I stated sarcastically.

“I said I was sorry for that!” he exclaimed, throwing his hands up into the air.

“Yeah, I remember,” I giggled as he shrugged his shoulders, a smile appearing on his face.

“Though I have to ask, you haven’t, uh, told anyone about me… right?” I asked twirling strands of my hair with my finger.

“Why? Do you only want me to know you?” He grinned.

“You wish. I just don’t want any attention around here,” I said with a roll of my eyes.

The last thing I really needed was to find out that he spilled my location to the Dark Lord and Maya’s for that matter. Though one thing I wanted to know was why he hasn’t told anyone about finding me, if he had Maya and I probably would have been bombarded a long time ago. It was obvious that he works for the Dark Lord, so why hasn’t anyone come here besides him? Was there something preventing him from telling anyone?

“Don’t worry, I wouldn’t dare think about ruining your habitat,” he said jokingly.

“Habitat?” I chuckled. “You jerk,” he shrugged his shoulders smugly, agreeing with me.

I sighed, dropping my head down in playful defeat. I suddenly felt his hand on my cheek, the other one holding my wrist. I looked up at him with wide eyes, my face feeling hotter with every second as our eyes locked into each other’s, his face began turning a different shade, which meant he was blushing too. We stared at each other for a couple seconds– though honestly it felt like hours, our bodies just slightly touching. I felt his cool breath on my face, his sweet scent lingering off his body. Something about him seemed different than before, but I couldn’t think of what it was.

“Hey! Let go of her!” I heard Mason’s voice call, snapping the both of us out of our daze.

“M-Mason?” I stuttered, looking in his direction.

He cut in between us, using his sword for leverage to separate us. Like that wasn’t dangerous enough. Lin brought out his own sword, looking ready to fight Mason as he stood in front of me, keeping me a good distance from Lin.

“Oh, who’s this now? Your boyfriend?” Lin asked sounding irritated.

“NO!” We both yelled at the same time, looking at each other awkwardly.

“Right,” he said sarcastically.

“If you have nothing better to do, I suggest you leave,” Mason said sternly.

“Mason, it’s okay,” I tried to reason, though he didn’t take it.

“No, it’s not. Can you not see that he works for the Dark Lord?” He glanced behind at me angrily.

And with that, Lin ran towards Mason, sword held high. The two of them stood in one place, trading feints, thrusts and parries with lightning speed, which was almost impossible for me to follow. They attacked each other with the look intent to kill, tension running high. Their swords clashed against each other making a high pitch clang as they circled one another, murmuring something that I couldn’t make out. Neva quickly flew over to me at the sound with Kai right beside her as I cupped them both with my hands, keeping them safe. Mason swung his sword at Lin’s head. Lin quickly ducked, swinging his sword back at Mason’s legs who jumped to avoid the hit. Mason’s sword swished through the air vertically, Lin leaping to the side. The swords scraped against each other, emitting a shower of colorless sparks. With a clenched fist, Mason stuck a punch to Lin’s gut, pushing him back a couple yards.

"I guess it's come to this," said Mason, staring at Lin with utter contempt.

"You're a fool to oppose me," Lin sneered as they ran back at each other.

Swish! A narrow miss, avoided only by a nimble leap to the side. Another trio of slashes forced Mason to roll backwards, the blade coming close enough to whip a breeze across his skin. Lin struck with a quick twirl of his blade, slicing a deep cut to Mason’s arm.

“s**t!” Mason yelled, blood gushing out from the wound as he winced at the pain.

I felt utterly useless just watching their fight, but something told me that even if I tried to stop them, I wouldn’t do any good and only get myself injured, or possibly killed. Lin drove his sword down onto Mason but he quickly rolled out of the way, getting back on his feet. I suddenly heard Maya call my name from behind me, the sound of her voice making my body freeze on the spot.

“Candace, what’s…” She cut herself off, catching a glance at the scene before me.

With a worried expression, I turned my head to look behind me at my more than enraged sister.

“Maya, don’t!” I cried in an attempt to stop her as she ran into the battle scene, her ice spear forming in her tight grasp.

Mason and Lin looked up, shocked, to see Maya running in to the fight. She ran and stood next to Mason, eyeing his wound from the corner of her eye.

“Two against one? I hardly think this is fair,” Lin said, swinging his sword in a circle.

“You b*****d, like you would play fair,” Maya bit back with gritted teeth.

He let out a single chuckle which only fed Maya’s anger, causing her to attack on impulse. She thrusted her spear forward to stab him, but he jumped back using his sword to shove it out of his way as he lunged for Mason again. Maya brought her spear down onto his sword as hard as she could, forcing his sword out of his hand and onto the floor below him. I didn’t know what I was doing but before I could stop myself I was running towards the battle, releasing Neva and Kai. Before I could reach Lin, Mason quickly shot his sword forward, piercing Lin’s stomach. He hastily jerked his sword out of his stomach; a colorless liquid that was his blood dripping from the sword. It was an attack I knew would make the wound at least twice the size. Lin immediately fell back, collapsing to the ground while holding his abdomen.

“LIN!” I shrieked, throwing my own body on top of his, defensively.

“CANDACE! What are you doing?!” Maya yelled, stopping her own deadly blow in mid air.

“Leave him alone!” I snapped back, looking at the spear that was only a few inches away from my body.

“Why are you protecting him?!” She said with a shrill voice, withdrawing her spear.

“What did he ever do to us?!” I inquired, looking up to at her face, tears running down my cheeks.

“Can you not see that he’s one of the Dark Lord’s henchmen?” she questioned like I had gone insane.

“Can you not see that he’s going to die if we just leave him here?!” I challenged, not taking my eyes off Maya’s own.

She paused for a second, like she was debating over something in her mind.

“Fine.” She announced with a cold glare. She then turned abruptly, heading back to the hut with Mason following her closely.

I sighed, it probably wasn’t going to end well between us, but I wasn’t going to worry about that now. Kai suddenly fluttered around me agilely, obviously distressed at what had happened to Lin. I gave Neva a look and she immediately took Kai a good distance away from Lin, so she could calm him down and I could concentrate. I turned my attention back to Lin, as he had fallen unconscious. I bit my lip, wiping my tears away and placed my hands onto his abdomen, reciting a spell that would at least stop most of the bleeding for the time being.

I look my blood-filled hands off his wound as I looked up at the sky, noticing that it was slowly starting to get darker. At least the major bleeding had stopped, but I had to get him to the hut. Fast. I lifted his torso up, positioning him so he was lying across my body. I turned into a tiger and began sprinting back to the hut, Kai and Neva lighting my path as the sun started to set.

I made it to the house, turning back into a human and dragging his limp and heavy body on my shoulder into the small hut. Maya just let out a long sigh as she sat up from the dinner table, opening the door to Mason’s room for me, where an extra futon had been placed for Lin. I put his body carefully onto the futon, though his wound had opened up again, bleeding excessively. I immediately began applying pressure onto the wound, reciting the same spell as before, Neva and Kai resting on my head, watching me work.

His gash quickly stopped bleeding, though just to make sure I needed to tie a bandage around his torso. It took me a while, but I finally pulled his shirt off, my breath stopping at the sight of his body; a perfect six pack. I tied the bandage around his body tightly, making sure to watch where I was placing my hand.

I felt my face burn as I and took in a breath of air, relief and exhaust flooding through my body. I turned my head to look to see the damage that his blood had done to my clothes, wiping my bloody hands on my shirt. It probably would have scared me if I could see the color, but since it was a mute grey, for all I cared it looked like water. Instead my eyes locked onto Maya’s. She had a deep frown on her face, but placed a plate of food a few steps away from me. I didn’t bother to look at it, instead turning my attention to the unconscious man in front of me.

“How’s Mason?” I asked, not looking at her.

“Good,” She conveyed. “How’s.. he?” she asked, unsure what to call him.

“He’ll be fine,” I explained, looking at him again.

“I can’t say I approve of what you’re doing,” she started to say, but the fluttering wings of Kai caught her attention, stopping her from saying anything else.

“Kai,” I said quietly, giving her his name. “He belongs to Lin. He’s the same as Neva,” I finished as Kai landed on top of Lin’s head, next to Neva.

She just nodded once and walked out of the room. I let out a breath, looking at the food that was just in reach. My stomach felt too small to eat anything, so I turned away from it and brought my knees to my chest so I could rest my head against it. I stared at the man in front of me curiously, using my fingers to wrap around his own playfully. What was wrong with me? Why did I suddenly run to protect him from Maya and Mason? Why can I only remember the sweet scent of his skin when I think about him? I felt my eyes get heavy as I closed them, falling into a strange dream. I guess using the spell took up more of my magic than I thought.