Storm Eyes

"The world rising up around me, rising to war," Asta muttered to herself, quoting one of her favorite poets as she strode towards the chaos in front of her, her long legs straining for every inch forward they could achieve. At least three girls, maybe eleven or twelve were screeching at the top of their soprano voices, their eyes alight with a raging anger. Asta was a mere yard away from where they stood, ready to calmly and coolly shut the fight down with a few well placed words, when from around the corner a tall, composed young man, looking to be about 15 with deep brown hair that was almost black, stepped out. He had to maneuver carefully about the bucket and mop standing alone near the corner. Then with a smile on his face that seemed to be both welcoming and yet, a bit stern quickly disposed of the fight before Asta could even glare at the girls.

She pulled herself up, straightening every part of her until she could look him perfectly in the eyes, and queried, "Alejandro, why did you interrupt that fight? I am the head of the girl's dormitories, and you, the last I checked, are in charge of the boy's dormitories. This was my business, and there was no way you could not have seen me!" This was all said in a hard voice, which sounded as if flame was crackling along the edges, searching for a way out.

"Oh, I am so sorry, but you know that I cannot bear to see dissent among people.. I figured if I set loose a few arrows at the target it would keel over," he answered, walking carefully the line of sarcastic and sincere. "or maybe burst into flame," he added, and it was clear that the last sentence and it's addition was not meant about the fight, really. His words, his arrows, had clearly made their mark for a second later Asta's eyes snapped, shining silver, and her waist-length of coppery-gold hair was being clenched in her right fist. Her breathing sped up and her mouth set in a distinct frown. She was angry.

"You are an annoying person. I just want to slap you, or stuff cotton in your mouth and sew it shut! Why can't you just stay in your matters and I will stay in mine!" Asta declared and with that she stormed off, for Asta was now furious and if she did not leave this confrontation now she might actually slap him, and hard too! Just thinking about it made her get even more angry and furious and frustrated. Why was he always baiting her? It was not as if they had ever gotten along, but he was always stepping on her authority and she needed it! When at Kerth Academy for Gifted Students and the Head of the girls attending it you needed every scrap of authority you could get if you wanted to get anywhere! She had to admit that he was a good leader, he always thought things through, and he judged fairly, but that did not mean she had to like him!

The morning sun's light shone lightly on Asta's hair, turning the copper to blazing metallic hue, and it also lit the frown on her face. Her face was a study in concentration, in contradiction to the beam of her hair. Her eyes were deep grey, catching the light of the rising sun, as was usual when she was deep in thought. Looking out onto the ocean from her room she saw a black menacing disk in the distance and wondered what it could be. This is however not what she was thinking of. The fight with Alejandro the day before lay heavily on her mind, that and other incidents like it. Roughly half of them were with her starting the problem, but she was only getting him back after all! The rough clanging sound of the morning bell rang through the still salty air and broke her reverie. Her eyes slowly slipped back into their normal light gray-blue tint and she walked out to start classes for the day.

About halfway through the day she looked through window and found that it had become a wet and washed out day. "It was so beautiful this morning, except for that menacing black disk on horizon," she lamented, and paused, feeling like she was almost the brink of remembering or putting something together, but it passed away. "Ah well, I must get on with my day, or else I might start slipping in my classes and that would not do! If I must ponder, it should be on how to take down Alejandro," she scolded herself. So, her day continued.

In her room she bravely plunged into her math homework when she heard a strange lull in the sounds of the ocean, and then a whirling, whistling noise. She peered out her window just in time to see a twister take out the far docks of the school. "This could be bad," she said haltingly to herself. Then from her open door came a sarcastic, cutting voice, "That, my dear, is quite an understatement."

"What! Alejandro, what are you doing in the girl's dorms?" Asta demanded.

"Why, the girl down the hall needed help with her books and now, Asta, we had better be taking care of the present catastrophe. I somehow doubt that we will not have to evacuate and then we will be needed," Alejandro pointed out.

"Fine, I'll meet you down at the commons with the girls," she said haughtily and turned to begin gathering a small pack of food, a blanket, some extra clothes, and other small items.

She then charged down the wood-paneled halls shouting the directions, "Gather food, blankets, clothes, and such. Meet me in the Girls' Common." She raced through each and every hall, shouting at anyone who questioned her. She comforted and yet hurried at the same time a little sixth grader who had been in a twister before and lost her eldest brother to the sea on that day. Asta handed the child to an older girl with a talent for taking care of little ones. Finally she had made it to the Girls' Common's and was pleased to find almost half already there.

Within the next five minutes girls hurried down as if the cyclone itself was at the top of the stairs and charging full speed. "Asta, the twister, it has almost reached the shore and," the girl paused to gulp in more air; "we are cut off from the rest of the island by a finger of the ocean creeping up behind us!" she finished with a gasp and a cry. "Okay. We will find somewhere to go. Don't worry. We just have talk to the teachers," Asta told them and lead them through the door leading to the commons. The frightened mass moved forward with her.

She found the common milling with boys of many sizes, all carrying a yellow school pack normally used for expeditions into the forest an hours walk away. Alejandro stood on a table, lecturing a few of the older boys on who they would be specifically in charge of. He paused as she came in and then continued another few moments. Then he strode to the mass of girls and began talking.

"Asta, so good of you to show. Why, the boys and I have been waiting for at least 5 minutes and that hurricane does get closer every passing second."

"Well, excuse me for making absolutely sure that each every one of my people were coming. Have you done anything with those precious five minutes?" she asked him, her spine already straight and her eyes making a slow descent into silver.

"I, Ms. silver eyes, have been getting my boys into groups and sending a person off to find out about where the teachers are. You will be sad to know that this was the day when they all went to the fine restaurant on the far side of the island," he said insolently.

"Well," she retorted, "I thought you might like to know that we are now cut off from the rest of the island by a tongue of the sea," in a matter of fact way. " We might wish to go to the caves near the forest," she suggested.

"Asta, my dear, if we were to do that we would surely drown. They are too low. Also, they are an hour away, if you remember. We should head to the high cliff on the east side. That has a few caves to shelter us," he said precisely.

"Fine, that will work. Let's get going," she said brusquely, her voice starting to echo with the remembrance of earlier flame. "And maybe, somehow, I will pay him back for all those my dears, and his lording presence," Asta thought, with no less force in thought then her previous words had been.

The drenching rain and the persistent and rocking wind has besieged them throughout the whole way to the high stone bluffs. The bluffs themselves were foreboding, if a bit more quietly than the storm raging above their heads and in their tired, bewildered minds. The wind swept them forward urging them to go where they wanted, for now. It seemed to scream that it would have its way soon, so soon.

Finally they had reached the cliff and it's relative safety. They were crowded into one cave and almost all were in when they realized that a little girl was missing. And they saw her, struggling up the bluff, as if her right knee was not quite right. Asta jumped out into the storm, lantern in hand and pack on her back, and began making her way towards the child. "Asta! Wait, let me come with you, you might need back up!" Alejandro yelled into the fierce bone-chilling wind. "No, this is my job, my duty, you don't need to interfere this time," she roared back to him, anger making her move faster and with less care. Alejandro did not listen and charged after her.

Alejandro had almost made it to Asta and Asta was but ten feet from the girl when a great wave crashed over the bluff, a sudden thing, studded with seaweed and swift as an arrow's flight. When it's bulk had left the cliff, Asta and Alejandro were nowhere to be found. The hurt girl paused a moment, surprised and now even more scared, but kept to her slow, steady pace.

Asta almost screamed as the tide of gray, seaweed-laden water hit her, but the murky water quickly filled her mouth, silencing it efficiently. She was jerked off her feet and pulled along in the rolling water. She felt herself fall off the cliff and on the way down hit something soft. She grabbed for it eagerly and pulled it toward her. Then Asta and whatever it was hit the roiling sea below with a phewf and all the air that was left in her was abruptly snuffed out of her.

The soft thing groaned and wiggled at the landing and once she could think she realized it must be Alejandro. Her guess was confirmed when it rolled over in the water and showed his face. "What were you following me for?!" she half shouted. " If you had stayed then they would still have a leader!" her tirade continued. It seemed like she was just getting anger and frustration out on someone that was really at the storm. "Well, what would you do without me? If you did not have someone to torture you, who knows what you would do to get your eyes to go silver," he retorted.

"Oh, come on let's find some land, she said and started swimming without waiting for him.

"Wait up, remember what happened the last time you didn't?" he requested.

"Fine." Asta said in stone hard voice.

They found some land and realized that all they could do was wait out the storm. The land they had found was just barely above the present sea level and strewn with rocks, big and small. Asta perched one of the rocks, her eyes turned to the sky, searching for any trace of the actual cyclone. After that was a failure she just thought, about the people on the cliff above, the probable destruction of the school and about. Alejandro. He had not tortured her or really been mean for a while. He had not even challenged her authority, not that she had any presently.

Alejandro leaned against the cliff face and looked at Asta. She had a thoughtful look on her face. Her eyes caught his attention. They were as grey as the turbulent sea around them. The exact same shade. Storm eyes. "Odd that while she is thinking her eyes go the color as the problem around us," he thought. "She has the temper to go with the eyes though. She should have been named Storm!"

The great storm was still going on long after his watch told him it was midnight. "Maybe we should sleep, Sil-" he stopped and changed what he was going to say, "it is late and we will need our strength."

"Yes, I suppose so," she said, still in a grey study. They took blankets and each bedded down on the opposite end of a great rock.

The next morning the sun rose almost totally cleared of yesterday's blockage. The rays coming through fell on the heads of the sleeping and woke them. Asta yawned, and determined to hold onto the precious warmth of her blankets, she hopped around until she reached her pack. Alejandro decided to stay in his blankets and watch the comical spectacle of her hopping. He almost laughed out loud and even readied a sharp remark when he realized that after all they had been through, maybe he should at least try to cut back on the comments. Instead he schooled his face to an indifferent mask or tried. He kept feeling a hint of a smile creep onto his face. Once Asta got to her pack she peered over at Alejandro and noted the look on his face.

"So, you think this funny? Where is your devastating remark?" Asta inquired, the flames just starting to live. Her eyes had begun to change, to slip into silver, her back was straight as a ruler and her breathing was slowly getting faster.

"There is none," he replied.

" Why? Tired of your game?" she asked him, still angry.

"No, I just realized that after all we have been through you really don't deserve my remarks. That you are my equal and trying to cut you down smaller than me with my remarks really is not right," he said in as honest and sure a voice he could manage. "I often just could not help it. You have a temper as hot as flames just born and so very easy to stoke back to life should it die. Egging you was, well fun," he finished in a voice that was tinged around the edges with shame.

"Oh," Asta said, "I see,". And that ended the conversation.

Once the two had finished putting blankets into packs they began to search for a way up the cliff. As Asta and Alejandro went they began to find many signs of the power of the hurricane and its accompanying storm. Near their rock field they found a tree, uprooted with many of its branches broken, on the stony ground. It had clearly been tossed from the small stand of trees above. Next and most disheartening Asta found the pieces of a fancy gilded chair scattered across the unforgiving rock. It was one of the chairs the professors sat on in the dining room. It was the first evidence for them that the Academy was truly destroyed. They pushed themselves past their grief and kept looking for a way up.

First they found a way that took them almost all the way up, but stopped without warning, so that the unwary might step right off. Alejandro almost did just that was saved by a gull shrieking below. This caused him to look down and see the ground no longer there the moment before he would have put his weight on the outbound foot. And that was only the first of many tries. Finally, when the sun was high in the sky, glaring down at them, Asta found a small pebbly hill, which led to another, that in turn led to yet another and so on. They smiled at each other in relief and Asta gave loud whoop. They started.

It took a sweaty hour and a half of hauling themselves up the pebbly slopes, which were much steeper than they appeared. Each step became torture and sweat ran down their foreheads and fell into their eyes, blurring them for a moment. It was one of those moments that Asta stepped into a hole and experienced a moment of sharp pain and then, blessedly, just a little pain. "I'm fine," she protested when Alejandro said they should rest. "It is not even twisted, just a tad painful." So they went on.

They reached the top and stared, their mouths making a little oh of surprise. The devastation had been complete. The school was almost totally leveled. The garden that had surrounded it was torn apart, bright flashes of flowers were strewn in the wreakage of the actual building. The only part still standing was a small teacher's house-type thing. Asta and Alejandro had never been quite clear on the point of it. However it was almost whole, missing only a front door, few windows, and quite a lot of shingles. Inside was a mess. But, it did not matter, only that fact that there was someplace for shelter once everyone came back mattered. So upon reaching the refuge they frowned at its mess, but immediately searched among the destruction and found a big janitor's mop. Together they wielded the long thing and began to clear the wreckage. Somehow Alejandro managed to bang the end on Asta bad ankle.

"You idiot!" she shouted, but it was not true anger, her eyes were quite blue. "Oh, sorry," he answered sincerely, knowing she joking. As they worked Asta asked Alejandro, "How do you think the others did?". "Oh, I think they did fine, just fine, we did after all and that was an accomplishment."