39 The Kiss of the Air*
Jane was not all that aware of her surroundings when she regained consciousness. Mostly because her arms and shoulders ached as if she'd been lifting baskets of fruit for a week straight. She frowned and moaned at the pain, then lifted her hands to rub her shoulders. As soon as her fingers skimmed over her shoulders, she jolted upright. What by the gods was that feeling? She shifted again, eyes wide as her fingers skimmed over the skin of her shoulders and she felt it inside herself. She looked down, and then gave a little squeak of alarm as she noticed the glimmering silvery-white lines that covered her shoulders and upper arms. She hurriedly stood from her bed, moving to the door of her room and out into the main room where her mother and father were sitting with worried looks on their faces, Falla sitting beside them. They all looked up at her sudden entrance, and stood in surprise.
"What happened?" asked Jane.
Falla grinned and moved to Jane, wrapping her in her arms, "You're okay, thank the gods!"
Jane frowned, "Seriously, what happened?"
Falla moved back, "You don't remember?"
Jane shook her head, turning to face her parents for an explanation.
"Jane you...you were attacked by Rassa after he got out last night," her mother stated, "You awakened as a Wind Magician and used your new power to fight him off and capture him".
As her mother spoke, the memories came back to Jane is a rush. After a moment, she spoke again.
"That wasn't Rassa," Jane insisted.
Jane's father sighed in annoyance, "Of course it was, the boy is a monster. I can't believe I allowed you to be so close with him all these years, he is one of the best examples of a sheep in wolf's clothing. You should not blindly trust-"
"I don't blindly trust him!" snapped Jane, "He's my best friend! I think I'd know it if my best friend attacked me".
"You sound ridiculous, Jane," her father stated, "I won't have you talking about it anymore".
"Jane, come and eat something, the Doctor insisted you should after you wake up-"
"Enough!" her father snapped.
Jane was silent as she looked at her father in shock. What had gotten into him? He'd always loved Rassa before. All the adults had. Why was it that now he had changed, they all treated him as if he was always like this? As if there hadn't been any significant change that occurred to him. It seemed as if in their eyes, Rassa had always been a monster.
Jane turned to Falla, "You believe me, right?"
Falla's eyes looked sad, "I..." She looked at Jane's parents and their disapproving gazes, then she started again, "Well...he did attack you Jane".
"That wasn't him," Jane insisted.
"I won't have that boy mentioned in my house again, now eat up," Jane's Father insisted before he picked up his hat and boots and left the house.
Jane frowned, "I'm not wrong. I know that wasn't Rassa".
Jane pushed passed Falla and back out the door, determined to find her best friend for proof. Only, as soon as she stepped outside, she was met with her father's back as he too stood in front of their house, looking at the beautiful woman who stood beside Baron Peters.
After a moment of surprise, her father hurriedly bowed his head, "Baron. What brings you here today?"
"Ralph, this is Grandmaster Arita Jekani, the Light Magician we requested from Toulle. She espressed an interest in seeing your daughter," the Baron spoke.
"I see, wel-"
Arita paid no attention to her father, rather, she passed him and went directly to Jane. She squatted down before the girl and pulled her dress's collar to the side to expose her life lines. Baron Peters and her father looked way in embarrassment. Even if Jane was still a child, she was a girl, and it was impolite to look.
"Interesting," Arita stated softly as she looked at the lines her fingers ghosting above but not touching them. After a moment, Arita looked to the other shoulder, then she allowed Jane to fix her clothes as she stood, "You are quite powerful little one. Usually we call someone like you Air-Kissed".
"Air-Kissed?" Jane frowned.
Arita nodded, "Yes, the making of a Saint-Class Magician. Though such a rank is not achieved without hardships. I see your determination though, you can achieve it".
"What's a Saint-Class?" asked Jane. Then she shook her head, "Nevermind".
She turned to the Baron, "Where's Rassa?"
Her father frowned down at her, "You are certainly not going to see that monster".
Jane glared back at her father, "He's my best friend. I will see him if I want to. Monster or not".
There was silence at her sudden defiance, and Arita gave an expectant look to the Baron.
The Baron sighed, "He's chained in the Jailhouse".
Jane's eyes widened. She'd heard stories of how dark and awful the Jailhouse was, the children had always been too terrified to venture near it. A thing their parents were grateful for.
"You put him in the Jailhouse?" asked Jane, directing her anger at the Baron, "How could you!"
"Jane!" snapped her father, turning to the Baron, "Apologies for her disrespect, Baron Peters, I'll ensure she's properly disciplined".
"You will do no such thing," Arita replied.
They all turned to look at the Magician, and she rolled her eyes at their ignorance, "She is a Magician now, she falls under the jurisdiction of the Academy, and by extension the Guilds. If you have a problem with her behaviour, take it up with them. Besides, he may be a Baron, but he's most probably the least known Baron in the entire Empire. I'd like to see how he'd try to go up against the Academy on that front".
Arita then turned to Jane, "Show me to the Jailhouse, let's see what we can do about your friend".
Jane was awestruck by this woman. She'd never seen anyone treat the Baron with such disrespect and get away with it. Sure she'd spoken like that a few moments before, but she'd done so in anger and frustration, not any kind of reasonable tone.
Snapping back to reality, Jane pointed behind her, "It's this way".
The Magician nodded then dug her hand into the satchel by her side and withrew a peice of bread, "Eat, it'll help you feel better".
Jane took the bread then munched on it as she turned to lead the way. No way was she saying no to this woman. If she could speak to the Baron without consequence, she must be really powerful!