by Dr. Adyasha Acharya
I move my eyes over the garden of iris flowers in the courtyard of the Elite Academy. The sun has set and the sky is veiled with the saffron twilight hue. The Elite Academy is a school for psychics located in the Iris Island in Indian Ocean. The island can’t be found on the maps because it has been cloaked with a spell.
I cross the huge bronze gates and walk into the forest. Students are not allowed to stay outside the campus after 6:00pm unless they are on a field trip. But I am not a student. The rules don’t apply to me. I am now an instructor here in the Academy and my Uncle, Henry Beaumont is the Dean.
A raven flies overhead retreating to its nest. My feet lead me to a clearing in the forest. A faint breeze brushes my face causing strands of my dark brown hair to fall over my eyes. I push them away quickly.
The light sound of footsteps causes me to turn around. Boots. Male boots. The man is still about hundred feet away from me. I sigh in relief as the sound comes closer. This is someone I know. I know too well actually.
Adam St. Lucius walks into the clearing with a smile. His green eyes gaze into mine and he winks at me. My heart skips a beat. Even after months of being in a relationship with him, he has the power to impress me with his dashing looks every time he approaches me.
“I only have one complaint,” he mumbles running his hand through his jet-black hair. “I can never get used to your telesthesia.”
I laugh, the sound echoing through the clearing and reaching the sky. Adam thinks it is bad he can’t catch me off-guard because of my supernatural ability of hearing or seeing things from a distance. “I guess that is one thing you have to learn to live with.”
“Hmm,” he muses stealing a kiss from me. “Found any kids hiding in the forest?”
“None yet,” I reply. “It is a good thing.” I turn towards him. “What are you doing here, Adam? You aren’t on scouting duty today.”
He pinches the bridge of his nose. “I thought I’d give you some company.”
I raise my brows. He knows that I know he is lying. Adam is the head of security of our Academy. He doesn’t do scouting duty according to schedule. He got promoted last year for his electrokinetic and combating ability.
“Fine.” He throws his hands up in defeat. “Your cousin informed me that someone tried to break past our protection wards an hour ago.”
“And Dane didn’t think it important to inform me?” And he told Adam with whom he practically argues every other day. Dane is Uncle Henry and Aunt Norma’s son. Ever since my parents died four years ago in a rescue mission, Dane has become more protective of me.
“Dane didn’t want to tell me either but I am the head of the security. He can’t evade me.”
“Right.” I bite my lip. “Any idea who or what tried to infiltrate?”
“Whatever or whoever it was, they were strong enough to weaken the wards.” Adam and his analyses are never wrong.
We reach the gates in no time and I spare a glance behind me at the silent, dark woods. “We should increase our security for tonight.”
“You’re right, I-” His words are cut off by a loud crash in the woods. Adam’s forest green eyes start glowing. It happens when he is about to use electrokinesis. And it just makes him more intimidating and appealing at the same time.
“What was that?” Dane’s voice shifts my attention. He holds his blade, ready to jump into action.
“Sounds like some creature,” I say. The crash sounded like a tree fell down. A human couldn’t have done that unless a one with magic.
Uncle Henry comes out of the building with a few guards in tow. “Secure the gates,” he orders them.
“What is going on, Uncle Henry?” I ask as we catch up with him.
“Do you hear anything?” he asks me instead. He is coaxing me to use my ability to listen out for danger.
I close my eyes and concentrate on the surroundings. Adam tenses beside me ready to attack. “Hooves,” I say. We aren’t dealing with horses, right?
“That is what I was worried about,” Uncle Henry murmurs rubbing his chin.
Aunt Norma rushes out as the hooves get closer in my mind. “Henry, I confirmed with Mr. Hirsch. The transfer has gone downhill.”
“Whose transfer?” Adam asks, his voice made of steel.
“Can I just say holy crap!” Dane mutters behind me. His father glowers at him which makes him shrug.
“They were being transferred to another prison, right?” I ask. This morning Uncle Henry had told me the Dullahans needed to be in a stronger prison than the one they were in.
Adam’s jaw clenches like he is about to say something he doesn’t want to. “I told you to send me.” Oh, so they had a conversation about this earlier.
“He doesn’t listen to anyone apparently,” Aunt Norma chides.
“They are getting closer!” I announce drawing their attention. Hurrying towards the gates, I pull a young guard back. “Don’t go past the gates.”
The Dullahan’s silhouette appears from between the trees. It is a headless creature riding a horse with one hand holding a sword and the other its own head. They weren’t this creepy in the books.
It leaps into the air and for a second I wonder what it is doing when body crashes into the wall beside me. Adam grabs me by the waist just in time as the wall crumbles down. “Secure the campus!” he yells at the guards.
Two other similar looking creatures reveal themselves and make a beeline toward us. I remove my daggers from my boots and aim one at the first headless creature. Where exactly can I hit when it doesn’t have a head on top of its neck? It jumps but my dagger hits its target. The sword it was holding drops to the ground.
It charges at me but Adam jumps in between, fingertips blazing with electricity, and burns it down to ashes. Uncle Henry and Dane deal with another one while Aunt Norma helps the guards.
The third one fixates it murderous gaze on Adam and me. “I have a plan,” I say into Adam’s ear then pick up my fallen weapon.
He smirks. “I guess then I’ll have to prepare myself for the unexpected.” He steps aside to let me lead. “Be careful, love.”
“You too.” I blow him a kiss then run to the broken wall to get the Dullahan’s attention. I wonder what happened to the guards who were transferring them. I hope they are fine. “Hey, you!”
“Seriously, love.” Adam shakes his head though a corner of his mouth tilts up. He shoots an electric bolt at the Dullahan who jumps and turns around.
I take advantage of its distraction and creep behind it. Adam’s brows furrow as he stares at me confused still firing bolts at the creature. I leap onto its back and land behind it. “Keep firing,” I shout at Adam.
“Damn, Glenn!” He curses yet obeys what I said.
The Dullahan tries to throw me off its back but I latch onto it. Adam’s next bolt strikes the horse’s head. Bull’s-eye. No, horse’s eye. I grab my daggers and cut off its hands then jump down. Adam is ready with his electricity which burns down the creature into ashes.
“My plan worked,” I say grinning at him.
“Yeah but it was hell of a danger to you.” His anger turns into a sigh. “I am glad you are safe.” Dane waves at us indicating they are fine too.
I nod. “We need a new wall though.”
Adam wraps his hand around my shoulder. “That was long overdue, love.”
About the Author:
Dr. Adyasha Acharya is a medical intern in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. She is a voracious reader and her most favourite genres are fantasy and science fiction. She has published two novels previously- “The Fearless Warriors” (2015) and “The Guardian” (2021), a short story titled “Nexus” in the Indian Periodical Magazine (October 2022) and “The Midnight Ritual” in the anthology “The Selection of a Sacred Strawberry” by Writefluence (2023).