Chapter 2: The Girl in the Flames

By the time Nixie returned to the table it had been long enough that Cole's brow was creased with worry. But even as she sat silently, it was clear enough that she wasn't okay even if she was trying to hide it. Her already pale skin had drained of any remaining colour, she was fiddling incessantly with the ruby pendent she constantly wore and her eyes were red and raw. She looked slightly sweaty, and the lids of her eyes were wet with what must have tears. And with Nixie being the unshakably calm and impossible to unnerve person she was, it was a very strange to see her with this.

'Nyx,' he said gently, touching her hand lightly, 'Are you okay?'

'Fine,' she said flatly, before softening slightly and said, 'It just sort of sunk into me that I possibly just failed the biggest test of my life.'

'Nixie, you have nothing to worry about,' he assured gently, 'really, you're a genius remember?'

Nixie smiled gently before leaning over and kissing him straight on the lips, 'Thanks, I needed that.'

'…You do realise that I'm still here and still a third wheel right?'

Nixie and Cole looked up to see Blake looking at them, eyebrow quipped slightly, 'Yes, yes we do,' Cole said boredly.

Nixie rolled her eyes heavily before asking, 'You two done eating?'

'Well seeing as I cleaned my plate off plus ate the rest of yours, yeah, I think so,' Blake commented pulling himself to his feet.

Cole ate one last fry before getting to his feet and offering his hand to Nixie, who squeezed it tightly before calling out to the waiter, 'Put these two on my tab, and tell Azibo that he's a culinary genius but don't let it go to his head.'

'Yes Miss Kingston,' the waiter said.

'For the last time call me Nixie, you don't have to be so formal Charles,' she said, rolling her eyes and getting to her feet, fingers interlocked with Cole's.

The three walked out the door, and started walking down the high street, it was filled with people all of them marvelling at the sites around them. Three hundred and fifty days in a year, seven months as a constant, and there was never a day when this street was empty no matter of the time of the day or the season of the year. It was a constantly bustling street that was impossible to be alone on.

'I hate crowds,' Cole groaned as he noticed that the people ahead of them started to stop or slow down.

'Keep walking people it's not too hard,' Nixie complained loudly.

'One foot in front of the other, it's not rocket science,' Blake called loudly.

But the people around them turned around to face them, 'It's not us, there's something happening up ahead,' a girl snapped forcefully.

Nixie groaned in irratance, and she turned to Cole and Blake before saying, 'Come on, I'll get a bird's eye view.'

Blake rolled his eyes and put his hands behind him and as Nixie pulled off her shoes and stepped up, Cole grabbed her arms to keep her steady. They knew they must look pretty weird to outsiders, but this had been a consistent thing with them since Blake had introduced Cole to Nixie. Nixie looked over the crowd, now a good three feet above them, but her eyes widened and she swore loudly as she jumped back down, making Cole and Blake turn to face her.

'What's going on Nixie?' Blake asked in alarm.

'Some kind of scorpion beast,' Nixie said whispered, looking unnerved, 'It's attacking people, some are on the ground, and they don't look like they're moving.'

Nixie was shivering slightly from the mere sighting of the creature, it had been about eight feet long, and that was without the tail. It may have had a human face and torso but it had incredibly dangerous looking fangs, pincers, claws and a humongous stinger on the end of its tail. The face had orange skin, pink hair and red eyes that didn't have a pupil or an iris; they were just a bright, glowing, blood red. It had scorpion legs, eight of them, each seeming to pierce the road as the creature stepped forward, attacking and growling and shrieking.

'Are there any Tate's around?' Cole asked, flinching visibly now that he could hear the thing.

'Do you think I'd be freaking out if there were?' Nixie demanded the paranoia all too obvious in her tone.

'Nyx, calm down, they'll be here soon,' Cole assured.

Nixie looked worried, and absolutely paranoid before she said, 'Take me back up, I'll see if I can see any of them on their way, I need to get a better look at the roof tops.'

'Nixie, this is really nothing that we have to worry about, I mean for god's sake this is a Tate issue, not us,' Cole told her, 'Even if there weren't any in the area, what do you expect us to be able to do? I mean really, we're human, the guardian families aren't!'

Nixie looked in some level of disgust at her boyfriend, before turning to Blake and saying, 'Are you going to help me or what?'

'I do not need to get in the middle of a couple's spat-'he began.

'Blake!' Nixie snapped in irritation.

'…You know what, fine,' he spat seeming completely exasperated by the whole situation.

He put his hands behind him and as Nixie climbed up she rested both hands on his head, using it for balance, 'I can't see anyone coming- Someone just got impaled to a wall.'

Nixie pretty much fell off Blake, forcing Cole to catch her before she hit the ground, holding her bridal style he looked down at her in an almost pitying way, 'Nixie, if the Tate's haven't gotten here yet, then we need to get out of here. Fast.'

Nixie almost growled, looking insulted by his insistence to get her out of there, like she was someone that needed to protected at all times, 'I don't need to flee like a baby-' but that was when the piercing scream of a women hit the air and Nixie relented, 'Fine, let's get out of here.'

Cole put her down glad that Nixie had come around to his way of thinking, and took her hand and then Blake's arm, and started pushing and pulling his way through the crowd. But both he and his brother and missed the look of upmost determination on Nixie's face. The look of grief, anger and something that if they had seen, would have told them that Nixie was about to do something that they would have thought was reckless or stupid. But as the crowd packed in tighter, everyone trying to see what was going on, all hoping to catch a glimpse of the Tate Family, Nixie's hand was pulled from Cole's.

It wasn't until he got out of the crowd that he turned around to realise that his girlfriend wasn't there, he whipped around, hoping to see her with Blake, but his brother was looking around looking just as worried, 'Where's Nixie?'

'Like I know! She always does this! The moment hell goes down she decides she has to see it for herself,' Cole yelled, his panic showing as he whipped around.

'Maybe she's just gone to flirt with the Tate boys; she does it all the time,' Blake shrugged.

'She does what?!' he demanded.

'It's Nyx; she's been doing it since she got here, for god's sake the amount of battles we've managed to walk into in the last couple of years-'

'She flirts, with those… creatures?'

'They save our lives on a daily basis, can you not treat them like they're some kind of beast, honestly without their abilities they're just as human as you,' Blake snapped.

Cole glared at his brother before repeating, 'She flirts with them?'

Blake rolled his eyes, and said, 'Maybe a little, but really everyone flirts with the guardians in their territory, except you.'

'Maybe because I already have a girlfriend,' Cole snapped.

'Maybe because you think all of them are out to get you?' Blake offered, before another piercing scream tore through the air, '…I'm guessing the Tate's aren't here yet?'

'God they're useless,' Cole hissed.

'Or maybe they have more than one monster to deal with?' Blake offered before clambering atop a set of nearby stairs, 'See, I can see Nixie, no need to worry, she's there.'

Cole climbed up beside his brother, and scanning the crowd, 'I can't see her.'

'She's right there,' Blake insisted pointing over the railing.

'Where?' Cole demanded.

'Holy crap…' Blake said suddenly.

'What can't you see her anymore?' Cole asked, filled with worry, still scanning the crowd.

'Are you so ignorant that you can't multitask enough to notice the giant fireball that just hit the Serket?' Blake hissed.

Cole looked confused and stared up at over the top of the crowd, '…I don't think she's a Tate.'

'Yeah… I don't think she is either.'

...

The crowd's eyes were locked on the girl, her entire form was surrounded by fire as the beast withered and cried in pain. But as much as she was demonstrating great power, it was clear she not a member of the Tate Family. The guardians of a territory were practically celebrities, there wasn't a single person who couldn't identify all of them, and there was no way she was a new fighter, they were all introduced at thirteen to the fight, she was at least five years elder than that.

The Tate's all had a similarity to them as well; they tended to be only of average height, with similar facial features and darkly tanned skin tones. Also, very few of them didn't have a hair colour that wasn't a shade of brown, a few of them had abnormal hair colours as well as how each of them was famous for ridiculously bright blue eyes, this wasn't a Tate that was for sure.

As the fire subsided she turned to scan the crowd with critical brown eyes, tinged with flecks of red. Her long golden hair flared out behind her making her seem to glow as every ringlet fluttered in the breeze. Her skin was flawless without a mole or freckle to it, perfectly tanned in a light golden brown.

She was dressed strangely and exotically, with a strange regal essence to her only further emphasised by the strange grace to her movements. She was in a fire-brick red tube top with darker embroidery on the top and bottom. Slightly disconnected sleeves tight at her shoulders before they became long and flowing, leaving her arms free. Ankle length genie pants were matched in the same colours, matched with small flat shoes with a twisted toe. But what further emphasised her oddity was her jewellery, each piece looked expensive made out of pure gold and dotted with bright red rubies, a bangle, a pendant, a choker and a strange diadem which was set on her forehead.

'Who is that girl?'

'I've never seen her before.'

'I don't think she's a Tate.'

'Who cares who she is she's hot!'

These were the responses that simmered through the babbling crowd before the girl turned back to the beast which was charging towards her. Before hurtling herself into a handspring and throwing herself towards the beast, hands blazing in an inferno that didn't seem to burn her.

The creature lunged at her, desperate to fight despite the fact it was charred and clearly very much injured. She spun out of the way with the grace and ability of an acrobat, before sending a high kick towards it, smashing one of its large fangs in half as she landed back on the ground, in a crouched position. The beast roared in pain, its excruciating cries piercing the air, the sheer strength in the girl obvious.

Her eyes narrowed as she surveyed the creature before she unleashed a torrent of fire from outstretched palms. The sheer force of the attack propelled her backwards as she caught a lamp post and swung round it to keep facing the Serket. Embers still hung from her finger tips, and she moved to attack again when suddenly a large rockslide came out of nowhere. This strange event not only crushing the creature under a massive slab of stone but forcing the girl to leap sky high to avoid being hit by the rubble, as she landed panting slightly, looking for her attacker.

She stiffened as she noticed the figures that had appeared, at least six or seven very empowered looking people standing on the horizon. They all resembled each other in some way despite the very large difference in ages and appearances. But the girl chewed her lip slightly at their appearance; she had the clear look of someone who was doing what they knew they shouldn't have.

'Lady Pyra,' one of the elder men said, 'This is our territory.'

Hesitating she bowed deeply, one hand in a fist resting lightly against her open hand, 'I am deeply sorry, I could not stand to see so many in pain Lord Tate.'

She seemed to be very respectful towards him, but this manner seemed to cast a clear tone of annoyance in her voice. Everyone in the crowd started babbling in confusion, they didn't understand what was going on, but this girl, this Lady Pyra girl, seemed to know she had done something she wasn't supposed to.'

'I am aware, but you must come with us now, you can understand why of course,' he replied in a deep, booming voice.

'I understand, although it might interest you to know that you need to keep watch for another Serket,' she said calmly.

'And why is that?' a younger Tate questioned irritably.

'I presume you're not used to getting Serket here, that thing was only the baby, and the mother is at least three times as big.'

'We shall set up a watch,' the elder man said giving a hard look to the younger man beside him, 'Now come with us.'

She nodded walking to their side, 'These people need a healer,' she said quietly but in a clear carrying voice.

'Haylan, if you shall remain behind,' the old man instructed.

'You may want to leave more than just a healer behind,' she drawled.

'And why is that?' the man questioned, clearly becoming more frustrated with her attitude.

'Simple, that thing it's not even dead.'

The old man looked shocked, but realising she was telling the truth when he saw it begin to claw its way out of the rock, 'What in the world...?'

Lady Pyra moved with lightning fast reflexes sending another blast of fire towards the Serket's tail which was lunging for one of the Tate's, gaining a look of exasperation across her features, 'You can only kill those things by freezing them and shattering them with psychic energy, well, from my experience, I'm assuming they're not too common over here?'

'Very well, Ryker, go fetch Blizzard and Saga to take care of this creature, you two come with me, the rest of you stay behind to keep this creature under control. Lady Pyra and I need to have a chat.'

A man and a women moved to the elder Tate's side, standing in a perfect triangular formation around the blonde girl. The Tate's moved their hands together as if in prayer, disappearing on the spot, taking Pyra with them. Disappearing completely, leaving the audience disappointed that they wouldn't receive any more information on this mysterious guardian that clearly was not from the Tate Clan.

But one person was not watching the Tate's, and hadn't been during the whole confrontation. The sandy haired boy still scanning the crowd frantically for his girlfriend who despite his brother's insistence, he still couldn't find among the hoard of people gathered to stare with amazement at the Tates. In face he hadn't seen a hide or hair of her during the entire confrontation, which although it didn't mean anything to him in that moment, it would make all the sense in the world to him soon enough.