Just before Zola could approach the girl sobbing on her right to comfort her, two student councillors escorted the girl out of the hall. They moved so quickly that Zola could not find the chance to speak to them.
Zola took another look at her surroundings. The hall was fast being emptied out, which allowed her to see a more familiar face.
“Afif!” Zola finally found her voice.
Afif acknowledged with a nod and held out his hand to her to signal her to wait for him.
Zola waited patiently for a good five minutes while Afif tended to a wounded male student. Once he was done, the student was wheeled away and Afif made his way to Zola.
“How are you holding up, Zola?” Afif asked without delay.
“I’m…I’m just…in shock,” Zola tried her best to finish her sentence.
Afif looked at her sympathetically and then took a seat beside her. He sighed, while his visage wore a frown. Clearly, there was something he needed to tell her but he didn’t know how.
“Where is Nerea?!” Lyuben bellowed as he entered the hall. Zola and Afif looked up at him. Afif rose from his seat to face him. Zola turned to look at where Venera had left Nerea previously but she was missing.
“Calm down, Lyuben,” Afif used a controlled voice to counter Lyuben’s outburst.
“Just tell me where she is!” Lyuben cried out.
“She was just here with me. Venera left her here with me,” Zola chimed in.
“Then where is she now?!” Lyuben sprang towards Zola but Afif quickly held him back.
“We’ll find her. There’s no need to flip out like that. Zola is still in shock. You can’t find her like this. Right now is not a good time to act this way. We already have a situation in our hands,” Afif said while maintaining his grip on Lyuben.
Afif turned Lyuben’s face towards him and looked deeply into his eyes. Zola noticed a drastic change in Lyuben’s gaze, which made her feel bewildered.
What the hell was that?
The two guys broke their gaze and Lyuben stepped back, looking slightly overcome. Whatever hold that Afif had over him must have worked as Lyuben slumped himself beside Zola weakly.
Seriously, what the hell was that?
“Afif, I need a report. Are the wounded tended to?” A familiar voice interrupted Zola’s thought. Venera arrived looking slightly frazzled.
“Yes, the injured kins have been relocated to the infirmary below and
all kiths who were wounded have been sent to the hospital,” Afif said dutifully. “The wardens will explain to the kiths’ hospital as discussed. I have dispensed the memory tampering potion you passed me to each one of the kiths, even the uninjured.”
“Good, I will need you to at the infirmary to check on their progress and let me know immediately when anyone is fully healed. I need every single one of their help to combat the Qakkirs.”
“Would you like me to recall our kiths’ guardian angels?”
Venera thought for a moment before replying Afif, “No, I will need them to monitor what is happening beyond Arevig’s grounds. I just want to be sure that the Qakkirs are confined to Arevig forest. More importantly, I want them to ensure that the kiths do not remember anything about this crisis.”
“Venera!” A sullen student councillor interjected while running towards her. “We have ensured that all the kiths have been safely escorted and transported out. Potions are also dispensed to them.”
The student councillor noticed Lyuben nearby and went towards him. He placed his hand on Lyuben’s shoulder and said, “Nerea is safe.”
Lyuben looked up at the mention of Nerea’s name. The student councillor continued, “She is on the way home and safe. Do not worry about her anymore.”
Lyuben put on an appreciative smile and patted on the councillor’s hand, “Thanks, Johnson.”
The councillor by the name of Johnson then turned to Zola and his face became more sullen. “Venera, why is she allowed here?”
“I need her here, Johnson.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I’m not sure myself, which is why I need her to stay here until I’ve figured it out. Her middle name is Chichi.”
Johnson raised his eyebrows and turned away from Zola. “Whatever it is, figure it out quickly, Venera, for her safety.”
“Don’t tell me what to do,” Venera said, slightly annoyed.
Johnson chuckled and started walking away from them, “I’ll check on the action outside.”
Zola gasped loudly when she saw Johnson disappearing into thin air as he walked out. Venera, Afif, and Lyuben looked at Zola immediately.
“He… he…. he…” Zola tried to string her words together but failed as her trembling finger tried to point at the spot where Johnson disappeared.
“He’s such a show off, don’t mind him,” Venera said coolly. “Right, Afif, off you go to the infirmary now.”
“Like now? Like that?” Afif gestured towards Johnson’s disappearance spot.
“You might as well. We need to tell her anyway.”
Afif shrugged and vanished. Zola’s jaw dropped.
Before she could even finish her thought, she felt the heavy presence beside her lift off in a fluttering breeze.
Is there a window?
But when she turned to look at her side, Lyuben was no longer there. And there was no window.
Zola felt incredibly faint. Venera looked sadly at Zola. She hated this so much; overwhelming any kith with knowledge they should not be having. Just as Venera was about to address Zola, she noticed someone approaching them.
“Anar!” Zola recognised the person immediately and ran to him and hugged him. She was surprised at herself for doing so and she was even more surprised that she did not care in doing so. Anar blinked in disbelief and looked at Venera sheepishly.
It took a while for Anar to snap out of his temporary confusion. He looked at Venera and mouthed, “What’s going on?”
Venera sighed in reply.