Though I am still reeling from our previous argument, I force down my pride and turn my head to face where Darien's voice is coming from. I'm sure my cheeks are flushed with rage, yet I constrain the cluster of spiteful and venomous words that are still dripping on the tip of my tongue.
Darien's form comes into view--the rage from just minutes before must have made him lose his corporeal appearance--and instantly his eyes meet mine. They are still somewhat cloudy with anger, but as we stare down one another in silence, I see that anger slowly change into something more or less acceptance. He sighs, running a hand through his shaggy brown hair. It is a gesture I have come to known, one he does only when he is truly upset.
Being dead, after all, Darien prefers not to touch anything--not even himself--if he can help it.
"You are a necromancer, Aria. I can't expect you to see my side of the argument. After all, you grew up around death. To you and your kind, death is just a weapon to use against Mundus's enemies. This land has been using the spirits of dead as their own personal swords and daggers for centuries; I know that. What I'm trying to get you to understand, Aria..."
I swallow back the guilty lump in my throat, refusing to give in to the calm tone, knowing Darien is just using it as a ploy to get me to agree with him. For a moment, I almost turn my head in defiance, and my hand slides into my pocket where the spirit quill is residing. Necromancers did not take flaque from their specters--especially when I had searched all over for the right one to bind as my partner. Especially when I had risked everything to sneak into the Academy, posing as a brother my father had never sired, a child my mother had never given birth to. Had all that truly been worth is for this?
Necromancers mastered death. They did not let their spirit partners talk to them like this--argue like we had before, with yelling and screaming...
Yet as I stood there, I realized I could not tear my eyes away from Darien's. They were always so blue, almost like a summer's day sky; and despite being the eyes of a spirit, those eyes held more sparks of life than I believed I had ever seen.
So I remained silent, allowing him to continue, even though my stubborn pride threatened to butt in and force Darien back into his soul dew like a proper submissive spirit partner.
"But to us, Aria," Darien continues on, still keeping his eyes locked with mine, and a jolt runs through me as I realize that once I have looked at him long enough...he does not resemble a specter much. He seems more corporeal; less see-through. He seems alive--at least, he does when he is arguing with me and refusing to cooperate to be my weapon. "death is to be respected by all people. Death is to remain as so--death. Those like me should be allowed to simply watch over the ones we lost after our heart stopped beating, rather than have your damned black magic force us to be bound to you. Especially when said necromancer breaks all the rules her society has set up for her, pretending to be a boy just for the sake of using death to her own design."
The words hurt more than Darien could ever possibly know. They cut through my flesh and drive themselves into my heart and burn, like a knife coated with acid.
We may be bound to one another as weapon and wielder, Darien knows nothing as to why I would risk everything just to be a necromancer.
Just to follow in Father's footsteps.
My throat is dry; my lips refuse to move and say the bitter words that crowd against the front of my mouth. All I can do is stare at him, hands clammy and clenching into fists while my tongue desperately attempts to moisten my lips. Darien takes my silence as a prod to continue on once more, and by the finality in his tone of voice, I know he has bested me in this argument.
"Necromancers may be a great asset to the army, Aria. Mundus is the only country that has the audacity to employ them as soldiers; and they use the numerous losses on the battlefield to further their stock of souls. But don't you see, Aria? Don't you see why so many people are terrified of you? Why those people band together in groups and organizations to try and make you see this madness?"
Darien leans forward now, so close that I am certain if he was a living person, I would feel his breath on my face as he spoke.
"You and all the other necromancers out there need to realize, Aria, that we are not your weapons, nor were we ever meant to be. Because guess what?"
I can't help but flinch at the animosity his last words hold.
"The dead have feelings, too."