Out of the Shadows: Part Two
The nights were beginning to cool, but not so much that he could see his breath yet. To compensate, Cobolt blew out a stream of purple cloud, watching the coils writhe in front of his face before fading away. It was almost midnight, and he took the time left until Adele arrived to stare up at the clear sky. Without the moon each individual star shone like a beacon. He tried to name each constellation, but gave up after only a few seconds. He never did paid attention in classes that involved reading.
A sound caught his attention. Even at midnight the Academy was never fully quiet; there was always a few teachers up late preparing classes or chatting, or some wayward students (such as himself) getting up to all kinds of mischief. But he certainly hadn't imagined the sound of soft wingbeats. He knew the beat of those wings as well as he knew the footsteps of his owner.
Quietly he backed up towards the tower that poked through this section of the roof, letting himself blend into the shadow it cast on the roof tiles. The purple around him faded as he disappeared from view. Without a moon there were plenty of shadows to hide in, but it was much easier in a large one.
"Did you really think I wouldn't find you?" said a lazy voice right next to his ear.
"Fyora!" he cursed, leaping half a metre into the air. "How do you do that?"
"I'm a Dark faerie," Adele replied in a bored voice. "A mistress of the shadows. Honestly, I don't understand how you keep forgetting that."
"I didn't think Dark faeries were very honest at all, actually," Cobolt replied.
He turned his head and saw her leaning against the purple wall of the tower. Because they were sharing the same shadow he could see her as clear as day. She chuckled darkly.
"You shouldn't have chosen the biggest shadow in the vicinity," she explained, smoothing down her dress carefully, even though to him it looked perfectly fine. Satisfied that he knew she had beaten him, she looked up at the sky. "Oh look, it's midnight. I'll be nice this time and let you go first. You know I'll catch you in a minute anyway."
She had barely finished speaking before he had moved, diving out of their shadow and into one cast by another section of the room. He had left his wand behind in his room, but midnight tag didn't really require any other magic than Dark magic, and he quickly summoned dark clouds to cover his paws and silence any sound they made on the tiles.
He didn't bother glancing back. There was really no point, as Adele would be concealing herself as well. He just focused on blending into each shadow, hiding his glow. There was no sound of pursuit, but she had probably muffled her wing beats. All he could hear was his breathing as he ran, and there was nothing he could really do to hide that.
He wished he had perfected the art of moving simultaneously from one place to another, but that was high level magic for a non-Faerie. However, he had managed to somewhat master summoning dark clouds to walk on, and he silently leapt over the edge of the roof, risking being seen for an instant before he fell into the shadow of the wall.
His legs flailed desperately for an a few seconds, and he thought he might have misjudged, but then his foot hit something that felt like a wall of water. The cloud seized his legs and steadied him, clinging to his fur in a not uncomfortable way.
He waited silently for a few seconds, staring up at the roof, but there was no movement above. Then he carefully checked the cloud to make sure it was as invisible as he was. When he was certain it was safe he gently pushed the cloud with his mind, urging it forward, towards the student's dorm rooms.
He glided past Adele's: The purple curtains were shut against any prying eyes, and he could see faint purple criss-crossing lines across the glass. Anyone who tried to open that window from the outside would get nasty purple boils on whichever body part touched the glass, as he knew all too well.
He hovered under her sill, scanning the buildings. Every shadow looked innocent enough, but Adele could squeeze into shadows less than half her size. He ignored the open sky; invisibility was possible using magic, but that went against the rules of the game. Midnight tag was only played in the shadows.
He moved out again, beginning to smile. If Adele hadn't found him by now she must surely be seething. He rose higher into the air, passing into a new shadow, and then suddenly his stomach dropped. He looked down in panic to see his cloud dissolving slowly but surely. In desperation he tried to float to the nearest windowsill, but the faster he moved towards it the faster his cloud disintegrated.
With a last desperate effort he launched himself off the cloud. It was too watery to give him much momentum, but he reached frantically for the cool stone above his head anyway. It was no use; the sill was too far away. He growled in frustration. In his head there could only be one person responsible for this.
"Adele!" he cried.
He was falling now, the smooth purple cobblestones rushing up to meet him. He was at least four storeys up, high enough that the fall could prove fatal. He had fallen about two storeys when suddenly he heard frantic wing beats. Air buffeted his mane, and he twisted in mid air in time to see Adele swooping out of a shadow, one slender hair reaching out to grasp his paw.
His fall was abruptly halted, his foreleg wrenching in the socket painfully.
"Use your magic, Cobolt," Adele said, her voice still cool, but her words were much too rushed for her to be that calm.
Ignoring the pain Cobolt gathered another cloud of darkness, which hugged his legs. Adele immediately let go, gathering her own cloud to lower herself to the ground alongside him.
"What was that?" Cobolt snapped when his paws finally – amazingly – touched the stone. He was furious. He wasn't even scared about shouting at a Dark faerie. The urge to shoot a ball of fire at her – or even better, a ball of light, which she would absolutely hate – was overwhelming. But then he caught sight of her face, and his anger cooled. Slightly.
Adele raised her hands defensively in front of her. "Look, I don't know," she said. "I thought I was closing in on you, then I heard you shouting my name from across the courtyard and I turned to see you leaping at that windowsill. I flew over and managed to catch you. But Jhudora, are you heavy. I could barely keep you airborne."
Cobolt ignored the jibe, instead secretly gloating that he had managed to hide from her. He looked at her face again. She had managed to school it into a perfectly cool expression, but when he had first seen it he had seen the panic in her eyes. He knew she wasn't as cold-hearted as she made out to be, but this was the first time he had seen definite proof.
He looked up at the windows above him, just as she asked, "So what happened?"
"I don't know," he replied slowly. "I just lost control of my magic. It was like it wouldn't work. And the closer I got to that darn windowsill, the worse it was."
Adele looked thoughtful. It was the only time her face softened enough for her to look beautiful. It was always there, underneath her seemingly perpetual scowl, but when she stopped trying to look malicious she was a match for the most stunning Light faerie.
"I noticed that as well, actually," she said. "I was gliding through the air, but then something interfered with my magic and I had to use my wings, instead. Wait here."
She snapped her wings out, as wide as she was tall, and gracefully took off. Cobolt was left alone on the ground, but at the moment he found he didn't really care all that much. His heart was still beating erratically, and he wasn't going to try that cloud trick again anytime soon. He craned his neck up and squinted, watching as Adele hovered, a purple nimbus around her hands. His perfect night vision made it possible to see when the nimbus began to shrink, eventually disappearing completely when she reached the window in full.
A few seconds later she dropped back in front of him, alighting gracefully in a puff of purple.
"There's some sort of ward around that window," she said. "It pretty much counters any magic, and it's pretty powerful. Third year stuff."
"So some third year is trying to prevent people sneaking into his room from the window? I don't see why he can't just do what you do to yours. What he did is a lot more dangerous."
"Not really," Adele smirked. "How many people do you know who go flying around with magic around the dorm rooms?"
"Point taken," Cobolt grudgingly admitted.
"What is really interesting—" Adele began in a tone Cobolt knew well, and he sighed inside his head. This could not bode well. "—is that that's Karl's room. I didn't think many first years could manage a spell that powerful. Except for me, of course. It's very suspicious."
"Everyone knows that Karl is a prodigy," Cobolt said. "Even though his sister is hopeless. I don't see anything suspicious about it. Although I would like to know just why he feels the need to put that spell around his room."
"Ah, that is just what I thought you would say, Cobolt," Adele said in a gleeful tone. She put her arm around his shoulders in a friendly gesture that nonetheless did nothing to reassure him. "I think we should investigate. He could be up to anything."
"You're just trying to hide the fact that I beat you in midnight tag," Cobolt said.
"Don't be stupid; I found you, didn't I?" Adele snapped.
"Only after Karl's magic interfered with mine and I almost fell four storeys," Cobolt growled, then gave up. There was no point arguing with her. He had only managed to win arguments with her twice this year.
"Tomorrow night, I'll come and find you, then we're going to break into Karl's room," Adele said, graciously accepting her victory by not noticeably gloating.
"You know if we get caught we'll be cleaning out the labs for the next two weeks," Cobolt grumbled. "I hope you have some fancy tricks up those sleeves of yours."
"Who needs fancy tricks when you have magic?" Adele asked with a sly grin. "Relax, we'll be fine. Tomorrow night."
Cobolt sighed. This wasn't going to get anywhere. "Fine. You found me; now it's your turn."
Adele cackled gleefully as she faded into the shadows.
To be continued...