I woke up in my room, my bedcovers set up to my chest. I did not remember leaving Athde’s study, but then again last night seemed to fade from memory, a dream. I tried to sit up and succeeded. I felt the covers fall from me, and I shivered in the night air. I looked down at my white skin that stood out against the black… silk… sheets… I pulled the covers back up to my chin, looking around the room. My eyes rested on a couch with a pillow and blanket on it.
Keres looked at me from the kitchen area of his room. “She finally wakes up.” He was leaning against the door-portal frame, holding onto a mug.
“Where am I?” I spoke, my voice quavering.
“This is my suite.”
He smiled grimly over his mug, as he lifted it to his lips. “Too many parents complained about having a vampyre staying in the same building as their children. Athde paid for an unused office to turn into a suite for me. It’s like a studio apartment, in your terms.”
“Why am I here?” I asked the question burning on my mind.
“Athde put me in charge of helping you until you have your energy back.”
“I have my energy back, can I have my clothes now?”
He threw a long shirt at me and watched as I quickly put it on. He took a drink from his mug and walked back into the kitchen. I took this chance to try to stand up, but something was telling me to wait. I leaned against the headboard.
I took in my surroundings, memorizing bigger the details. The walls were a dark blue, making me think of midnight. He had no windows and two door-portals, one of which had the Mortalitas leaning against a wall near it and a table that had my pipes and stone laying on it. The bed could easily fit Dei, Cittrite, Keres and myself with room to spare. The sheets were black silk and the comforter was blood red and down-filled. There was a dresser made of black oak, along with matching nightstands and a table. There was a black leather couch which had a blood red pillow and blanket draped across it. I noticed that the longest wall in the suite was covered in bookcases and books.
Keres walked back into the main room, holding a tray with a bowl on it in his hands. He sat down next to me and gave me the tray. It looked like chicken noodle, but after the surprise with the blood, I did not want to take chances. “What is it?”
“Chicken broth, feet and intestines.” He showed no emotion on his face. I felt puke rise into my throat and mouth. I swallowed it reflexively but it left a bad taste in my mouth. He then grinned, “Just kidding. It’s chicken noodle soup from a can.”
I took a spoon and swirled the soup around, watching the steam rise. I set the spoon back down and looked at Keres. “It’s too hot. But if you don’t mind, I have a question for you.”
Keres leaned against the leather-padded headboard. “Depending on the question, I might answer. If I do, it will be a full truth.”
“What changed? When we met, you loathed me, yet within a day, your opinion of me changed enough that you are sharing your bed with me. What changed between us?”
Keres took a deep breath, “I never loathed you. Yes, I was annoyed that I was given a human for a helper, but I did not hate you. Like you learned, hatred is a powerful thing and I refused to hate you for being human. Things changed when the Mortalitas chose you. I saw a glimmer of the powerful woman you would become. Then I saw what happened in the mess hall.”
“No, none of the teachers know. Even then, the student was a third year warrior, you should have never been able to take him down. The kid’s pride was hurt, why would he go tell a teacher anything? Especially when he would have to admit he started it all. Then I started to respect you after you started the first year’s test. You knew what that objective was and was able to destroy a piece of the test that has been there since the Academy’s inception, for more than five thousand years. And moreover, you destroyed it using nothing but your voice and power. I have nothing but respect for those who are stronger than me and do not try to control people with that power.”
“Why did you cut yourself and make me drink the blood?”
He blushed slightly, “I deny answering. I have my reasons that do not need to be known until you have completed the last test.”
“What did you mean when you told the Mortalitas that you needed me to become a Lord?”
He turned a deeper shade of red, “Same as the last one, I deny answering.”
I leaned forward, picking up the bowl, “I could always read it from your mind. But I won’t because you trust me not to.” I started to drink the soup from the rim now that it was room temperature. I set the bowl back on the tray my lap, “How long until I’m well enough to train for the next test?” I set the tray on the nightstand.
Keres looked down at the sheets, “You are fully healed now. Valiente, you have been unconscious for the last week. We were starting to worry about you and if you did not wake up today, Athde was going to contact your mother.”
I shuddered at the thought of mum coming in and seeing me close to dead after only one week of school. “Are Cittrite, Dei and I allowed in any of our old classes?”
Keres shook his head, his long black hair sliding to cover his eyes. “No, you all are stuck with Athde and myself to learn everything you need to know.”
“What is the next test?”
“I cannot tell, but I can tell you that preparing for it is going to be hard on all of you. You will need brains, brawns and a good understanding of each of your magical abilities to pass the second test. You will all need to work to your strengths and find out how to defeat the enemies you will be facing.”
I fell back against headboard, holding onto my head, as a wave of pain gripped my mind. Keres sprung forward, catching me, as I started to lean towards the edge of the bed. He pulled me close to him, cradled my head against his chest. He spoke softly in a language I never heard before. He sang a soft melody, long legato notes soothed the headache, but did not kill it.
I looked to the Mortalitas and I felt a kind of betrayal and resentment emitting from the weapon. I pulled away from Keres and shook my head, headache still there, “I need to go.” I did not look into his eyes, because I knew I would see another sign of betrayal from him as well. I slid out of the bed and wobbled my way to the Mortalitas. I grabbed Him, the pipes and stones before walking out of the suite, wearing only the shirt Keres lent to me.
| _-_ |
You were getting a little bit cozy with the vampyre. Mortalitas accused, while I dragged him along the smooth granite floors of the Academy.
“I like him, alright? I’m sorry that I like him, but I can’t help it.” I felt my headache grow. “Can we talk about this later?”
Why should we wait?
“What should it matter? You’re trapped inside this mallet and Keres wouldn’t like me like that anyways. So, what does it matter?”
It does matter! I chose you first!
“No, you didn’t, technically. He knew me first.” We reached the dorms, before the other students returned from their classes. I threw open the door-portal and slammed it behind me,
But he did not claim you when you two first met. I did. Therefore, I should come before him.
“A fucking possessed hammer is jealous of a vampyre, both who can’t have the girl because she is promised to a greater purpose!” I threw the Mortalitas in the chair and collapsed on the bed. “Stupid headache…” I whimpered as another wave of pain surged through my head.
Refusing to let it take over my day, I took off Keres’s shirt and turned the shower on. I waited until the water was steaming hot before climbing and letting the heat burn through me. I kept my head under the stream of burning heat, a relaxing flame of water licking my mind of thoughts.
I closed my eyes, whispering to myself, a story from a voice that I now recognized as my father’s, “Once upon a time, child. When the days grow hot, the nights ice cold. In years when you come to your full Potential. There will be a war that threatens to desecrate the lands. You will either be on the side of the Blood Knights or not. The choices you make starting, will influence on the tide of the war. You cannot stop the war, but you can change the outcome. Listen to my words and heed them well, little one. You must watch your step, must watch the where the lines are drawn. You must dance on each side, or the worlds held together by the Gates will be destroyed. Be wary of those who will try to change who you are. Beware of the Horned Black Knight, as he will have you no matter the cost. Above all, beware of those who you will come to love, as they will be tools for your destruction.”
The memory rose when the younger me asked, “Why warn me now? Why not wait until I am grown to tell me?”
“Little one, there is unrest in my kingdom. I cannot stay until you are older, but if you ever need help…” He gave the little me the pipes and stones, “They will lead you back to me, all you have to do is play this song.” He sang softly, his voice deep and beautiful as he sang the song to the Gate of Hell.
I opened my eyes, as the water started to cool, no longer the steaming hot it was when I started. I scrubbed my skin with soap before I turned my face up to the streaming water. That was the last I saw of him… I thought to myself, as the water turned ice cold. I shivered and turned off the tap. I stepped out of the shower and dried myself off.
I walked into the bedroom and grabbed clothes from the dresser. I grabbed a shirt that was a size too large, but fit so I could move easily and a pair of jeans that stretched to accommodate any movements I would make. I put on my pipes and put the stone in my pockets. I put on a pair of socks then a pair of sturdy combat boots my mum gave me for Christmas years ago. I grabbed the Mortalitas, swinging him to on top of my shoulder, “How much smashing can you take?”
Since I am not hurt by you slamming me around everywhere, this housing can take as much as you are willing to dish. My power strengthens it to the point of invincible. What are you thinking?
“I need to destroy things.”
This is because of my being jealous of Keres, is it not?
“Yes, because I can have neither of you. Those I love will be used against me, I cannot allow myself to be swayed by the power of love. Honestly, no offense, Mortalitas, but I do like Keres more. He is a bit sexier than you are and he actually has a body.”
… I was answered with angered silence, which was fine with me. I walked out of my room as the bell rang for mid-day meal. I walked passed people, not noticing anyone, as I made my way towards the Library.
| _-_ |
I stood at the Gate I had entered for the first test, before I heard someone behind me. From the sound of it, the person was still climbing down the stairs. I knew who it was and at that at moment, I did not care, “Don’t try to stop me, Keres.” I spoke softly to the Gate, “Somewhere where I can practice fighting, without hurting anyone.” The Gate swirled, the colors of light and dark spiraled from the center. I ran through the Gate, knowing Keres would not reach it in time.
I turned back to the Gate and watched it close behind me, showing the landscape behind it. I turned back and saw an outlined field covered with masked fighters. They wore white masks that hid all of their features, making them faceless. I looked at their clothes, noticing they were completely white, from mask to shoe, as well as their blunted swords. They were to be my opponents, trained not to stop until their adversary’s stamina wore out.
I saw a red masquerade court-mask, with a pair of headphones, sitting on a table near the field. I set the Mortalitas on the table, picked the mask up and tied it across my eyes, putting the headphones on my ears. I saw what looked like a video game output, with number of enemies killed on one side and my stamina gauge on the other. The mask pressed against my temples, giving it the information of my body’s vitals.
I grabbed the Mortalitas off the table and stepped onto the field. As soon as I crossed the line, I was attacked from all sides. I used the Mortalitas to block the attacks from the front, but I saw my stamina meter start to drop rapidly. I swung the Mortalitas around in a circle, using His momentum to knock though some of the masked warriors.
I created a circle around me of masked bodies. Music started to play in the headphones, a song I knew as Nightwish’s “Bye-Bye Beautiful.” I hummed the music, using it as a distraction against outside thoughts. I smashed the Mortalitas against heads, ribs and pelvic bones. For every one that I smashed down, three replaced it. I moved farther into the field, they started to attack back in numbers.
I hit one and two got me across the back with their blunt swords. The song ended and went to a rock song, Lacuna Coil’s “Spellbound.” Using the more upbeat song, I went after them again, ignoring the pain in my back and sides from being unable to attack and block at the same time.
I whipped around and took out the seven that were prodding me in the back and sides. I looked at my stamina meter; it was close to empty and according to my enemy numbers, I only took out maybe thirty opponents. I tried to start blocking the attacks, and I noticed the stamina gauge increase slowly.
I quickly whipped around, sensing a pattern in their attacks. One would attack, then one on the opposite side of the circle around me would attack with my back turned. I whacked one of their heads, before whipping around to block another attack with the handle. I choked up on the Mortalitas until my hands were just below the head. I used the handle to block, before smashing the attacker with the head.
I noticed my stamina gauge stopped moving, making my blocks and attacks taking the receiving and taking the same amount of energy. The number of enemies I destroyed started to rise with each hit. Soon, I was dancing to the rhythms of the battle, attack, spin, block, attack, spin, block… My world narrowed down to those three words and I did not hear the music in my head anymore.
I spun and felt the Mortalitas clashed against something harder than the masked warriors’ bodies. I looked into the eyes of someone wearing a blue-masquerade mask. We pulled apart and I saw the faceless warriors create a circle around me and the other warrior. He wore all black, accenting his lightly colored honey skin and held a rapier in his hand with ease. I could see his grey eyes behind the mask. His light brown hair was shoulder length and was not tied back, giving him the look of a wild man. The enemy count disappeared, giving me his stamina gauge.
I spoke one word, knowing he would hear me clearly, “Leave.”
The warrior just stood there looking at me, not thinking me a good enough warrior to answer me.
I spoke again, “I came here to fight against things I could not hurt. Leave before I choose to take my anger out on you as well.”
The warrior swung his rapier around his body, a flurry of the sword danced around him. He then sprung at me, giving me little time to block. The rapier slid passed the Mortalitas’s handle and slashed my upper arm. I felt blood trickle down my arm and I knew that this was not going to be an easy fight. I was a tired, inexperienced fighter against a fresh warrior who knew what he was doing.
I backed away, trying to get more of my strength back, but I noticed that the cut was keeping me from gaining it back. This is bad… The Mortalitas told me. I nodded to Him, right as the other warrior swung the rapier at me. I blocked at the Mortalitas, my focus narrowing to the one opponent. He is not trying to stab you, meaning he is toying with you, wearing you down, without actually hurting you. Knowing that, I continued blocked the attacks that would not wound, but exhaust me.
We spent what felt like an hour of him attacking and not letting up. I kept blocking where I could, but he kept getting passed me when he was aiming to slice me. I felt more bloody cuts blossom against my skin. The more he sliced my skin, the lower my stamina gauge fell. I was done to one last hit, when he stopped attacking me.
I fell to one knee, gasping for air, now that he let up. He came close to me, standing over me. In one swoop, I swung the Mortalitas up, using the momentum to quickly stand up. He backed away, just barely dodging the Mortalitas. Before he could recover, I dropped the Mortalitas and leaped forward, slamming my head into his. He took a step back again, clutching his head, as blood dripped down his face.
My stamina gauge fell to nothing and I fell to my knees, no longer able to fight. I grabbed the Mortalitas, using Him to hold me up. The warrior dropped down in front of me, his gauge halfway gone. My world swam, as he leaned in close to me. I could not hold myself up and I felt myself start to lean to the side.
He reached forward, but I fell onto my side, before he could catch me. He pulled my mask off, along with the headphones. He leaned over me, his lips dangerously close to mine. I recognized his scent as his cracked lips pressed harshly into mine. “It was foolish of you to come here alone, especially since you are carrying a very dangerous weapon. Foolish girls should not handle things like this.” He smelled sickening sweet, honeysuckle and oranges and I recognized the smell, but I could not place where I had smelled it before.
He reached for the Mortalitas and I could not stop him. I lightly brushed my fingers on the handle, my fingertips barely touching the wood. Please… do what you need to in order to protect yourself! I told the Mortalitas as my fingertips lightly touched it another time. I felt a cold searing at my hand, as something moved through my body and mind. I felt the cold settle in me as the world once again fell to black.
| _-_ |
Valiente! Wake up! The cold in my mind spoke to me, urging me to the conscious world.
“What, Mortalitas…?” The thought jolted me into an upright position. I remembered that the other fighter stole the Mortalitas, but then… Who was this voice talking to me?
You told me to do whatever I needed to in order to protect myself. I took the only course of action I needed to stay away from his hands. I am sorry, Valiente, but the only way to protect myself was to go inside of you.
I took this in, not surprised that it was a choice. “You were the coldness that ravaged me.”
Yes. But I cannot stay here long! You need to find yourself a more suitable weapon to transfer me into, or I will take over your body in a possession.
His words alerted me to the danger that Him staying in me would possess. “I found a weapon that reminded me of something I can use easily before I found you. Where does Professor Milt keep his weapons?”
I do not know where exactly. Walk up to the Gate and tell it to take you there and trust the Gate to hurry.
I stood up, my stamina fueled by urgency. “Where did he go?”
He spoke to the Gate and went somewhere. I did not hear where he went.
“That was the Horned Knight. The Black Knight knows how the Gates work…” I ran to the Gate, my mind flooded with thoughts. I reached the Gate, “Take me to Milt’s weapon storage!”
The Gate ignited as Keres stepped through towards me, “You do not realize how long I had wait until the Gate allowed me to see where you were.”
“Keres, I don’t have time! The Mortalitas is inside of me, the hammer shell stolen by the Black Knight.” I grabbed his hand, as the Gate opened by my command and I leapt through it, Keres in tow.
The Gate closed to the door-portal behind us. “Why are we in Milt’s weapon storage closet?”
“I need to find the weapon I know how to use to transfer the Mortalitas into it.”
He sighed, figuring I was lying, “What are you looking for? I will help you find it, but then you have a lot of explaining to do.”
“It’s two forearm length curved blades connected by a green and black leather ribbon.”
Keres and I searched in silence, but it was not long before Keres shouted, “Found it!”
I ran over to him and I pressed my hands to the leather ribbon. The cold swam down my back, down my arms, out my hands and into the weapon. Elegant, but deadly. I hope you made the right choice.
“I do too.” I mumbled, as I looked up to Keres. He squinted his red eyes at me, glaring at me talking to the Mortalitas. “Keres… Look… I’m-”
“I do not want your apology. I do not want anything to do with you, but Athde told me to find you before you caused harm to someone.”
I felt my eyes well up with tears, “I already hurt someone.” I looked down at the ground, not wanting him to see me cry. “I hurt you…” I turned and walked out of the door-portal to the outside. I looked at the closed door-portal and knew I ended up somewhere else than he did.
… You really care for him… His voice was sympathetic, yet still had an edge to it.
“Yes… I do… But like I told you before, there is no point of you being jealous at him. Neither of you will have me in the end.” But that thought did not stop me from crying the whole way towards the dining hall from both heart pain and from the cuts the Black Knight inflicted on me.