Chapter 8: In Which Aria Finds A Routine

Aria was losing track of time in Evermore, the events of the town distracting her of her task, her mind now focused on helping the town and spending as much time as she could with her mother. She knew the risks of her actions and the back of her mind still tugged, begging her to continue trying to help Votum, but being with her mother felt right. She hadn’t had any leads on Votum in weeks and she couldn’t figure out a way to get there so she had given up for now and fell into a routine, completing Ranger training and tasks for the town.

Aria was free to roam Evermore as she wished, no longer was she locked in the tavern for weeks, darkbloods flooding the streets outdoors. In this time, the darkbloods were contained away from the bustle of town, left to stalk the forest and outer walls of the town, the Knights and Rangers patrolling the borders of the magical barrier that kept them locked inside. She was not afraid of the darkbloods, however, they did make her nervous as she realized this was how the Fae King slowly took control of the town until one day, the Evermore Aria was familiar with, would come to be.

She worked closely with her Uncle Hal, walking in a complete circle around the town, counting the darkbloods and making sure they stayed in their areas. Her mother did not like Aria being near the darkbloods, however, after many conversations, Aria pleading with her to be allowed to do more than gather information, her mother allowed her to patrol as long as she reported back to her immediately with her safety and what she had learned if anything.

Aria had not told her uncle who she was, however, knowing of Vaella’s fear for the elf, her Uncle Hal had entrusted Aria with one of his arrows to patrol with, with the promise to only use it if attacked and to return it immediately upon returning from a patrol. It was one of these arrows Aria clutched to her chest tightly now as she walked through the paths leading to the fountain at the top of the hill. Aria was not afraid of the darkbloods and knew she could keep them back as long as they didn’t surround her, however, she was afraid of being infected with the darkness they carried. It was this same darkness that would infect her entire town, infecting with it she feared, her mother, father, and Cleo.

It was common knowledge when Aria grew up that those infected with the darkness could not be cured, the town had given up shortly after she was born looking for a cure, however, in this time, it was common knowledge that the world walkers who Aria learned were human, could not be infected with the darkness. It was because of this that her Uncle Hal had unknowingly sent his niece into danger, thinking her a world walker like the others and therefore safe from the threat of the darkbloods. Her mother upon learning of a patrol assigned to Aria would grip Aria’s arm tightly whispering ‘be careful’ as she looked at her with both concern and strength, she would never reveal to her daughter her fears although Aria knew them well, she shared her fear.

Aria walked up the path as quietly as she could, thankful that she had stealth on her side. She silently thanked her mother for having the sense to teach her how to be stealthy at a small age as she side-stepped behind a tree, a darkblood walking past. Her heart pounded in her chest as she gripped the arrow in her hands, ready to attack if the darkblood drew near. It was a soldier and Aria frowned at his garb. He wore a silver helmet which seemed fused to his head as his grey and brown face cracked and melted, holes gaping at her from a distance. He bore no eyes or hair, and his teeth were sharp and stuck out, his mouth opening wide to let out a guttural scream.

She put her hands over her ears, the arrow pressed cold against her cheek, and she shut her eyes tight, trying to keep her breathing even. Her mother would always tell her as she looked at her with soft eyes, smiling, to stay calm and breathe, and Aria tried to do so now, knowing if she panicked, the darkblood would most certainly find her.

She fought the image of her mother, father, and Cleo as darkbloods, and instead tried to think of the Cleo she knew here in this time. Aria had talked to Cleo many times and they were beginning to become close, talking, playing games, and if Aria was lucky, she could listen to Cleo sing one of the many songs she blessed the town with. It was one of these songs Aria tried to focus on as she listened to the darkblood pass her, and she then opened her eyes, stepping back onto the path, her heart rate struggling to return to normal. She finished the patrol as fast as she could, counting fifteen darkbloods, and reported back to both Uncle Hal and her mother, her mother nodding with approval, the sigh of relief barely showing on her face as she tried to hide it. Vaella propped her bow on her foot, spinning it quickly a few times as she stared into the distance.

She then looked back at Aria, “Aria, there’s a bit of information I need you to get me about the darkbloods. Go to town square and see if anyone there knows anything we don’t already know about them and then return to me with a report later.”


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Aria stared at her mother, a slight smile playing on her face, and she shook her head slightly, “I already told you everything I know about them. You sent me to do that yesterday.”

Vaella stood taller, looking down at Aria sternly, “I know, I need you to do it again.”

Aria sighed, looking down, “Okay, I will do as you say but I know what you are up to. You’re just trying to keep me from doing anything dangerous and away from them.” She pointed towards the infected area.

Vaella stared at her, twirling her bow once more, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, now go.”

Aria breathed out, a puff of air spinning in the air as it rose to the sky and she began to walk away, looking back and smiling, “Okay, mother, I’ll come back later then.”

Vaella watched her walk away, concealing a look of concern, however, Aria knew her mother well, especially her expressions, and she knew that Vaella was feeling the weight and fright of keeping Aria safe. Vaella knew Aria to be Evermorian and Mythosian by blood and the only one in town to know she was not safe like the world walkers were. She smiled wider at her mother, mouthing ‘it’s okay’, to which her mother nodded once, and the two turned away from each other then, their worries clouding their minds once more in their silence. 

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