Awakening 1.4

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A Peaceful Dream

I felt warm. Warmth wrapped around my body and covered me like a cocoon. I wasn’t totally aware of my body or my surroundings, but I was conscious enough to know that I existed, that I had form.

I could feel the heat of bright sunlight on my face. I opened my eyes slowly, revealing a clear blue sky. My back felt wet, my body felt like it was floating.

Wait.

What?

I found myself floating naked in the middle of a river that was crystal clear. I righted myself up, frantically trying not to drown, and make my way over to the river bank close by. Crawling out of the water and off the bank, I laid down on the grass—breathing hard.

I sat up, looking at the water I was floating in. It was still and serene. I pause for a moment and look at the various trees and vibrant undergrowth around me in the endless garden. I looked down at my body; a slight breeze nearly caused me to jump out of my skin. I needed some clothes.

Where was I?

I heard the sound of rustling bushes. Something transparent—a freaking ghost!—popped out to greet me. I tried to grab something to cover my naked self but realizing I had nothing good to use, I had to settle on an arm and a hand.

The hell?

She looked like an alien—or at least I thought it was a she. The being had white glowing eyes and a body like a bombshell, showing visible misty swirls constantly moving on her skin like a bunch of typhoons. Or was it beneath her skin? She was transparent after all. Ridiculously long and ghostly deer antlers were connected to her head.

“Who are you?” I whispered. “What the hell are you?”

The spirit woman made a sound akin to a giggle.

“I am Nature,” she said. “The Elder God responsible for creating the Seven Realms.”

What. I mean what?

I couldn’t really tell but judging by her slight smile, she seemed amused. “Do not worry. I will explain. I am an Elder God. One who maintains and watches over the realms with the other two Elders, Death and Karma.”

My mind was blank. Gods? Elder Gods? Everything she had just said turned what I had learned about the afterlife and religion on its head.

The fuck?

My mouth ran dry. “So you’re a god then? Am I dead?”

Nature shook her head. “You are still of the living, my child. I am not a god in the way you think I am. Come.”

Nature beckoned me with her hand To follow her through the tree covered fields.

“You’re not?” I asked, walking quickly—almost jogging to catch up with her.

“I’m the creator of the Seven Realms along with Karma and Death, but we are not The Most High. That would be a more accurate term for the one you and most humans on Earth believe to be God.”

I frowned in thought. “So you guys are like… lower gods then.”

Nature chuckled.”In a way. We all come from The Most High, The All-One in the end.”

As we walked, I observed the environment in front of us, taking the time to admire the trees rustling in the wind and breath in the crisp air. I could feel the soft grass between my toes as I looked at the clear river next to us.

“So…” I said. “If I’m not dead, why are you here? Heck, why am I here? Whatever here is.”

Nature didn’t respond right away, silently guiding me through the fields. She found a nice spot to sit, under a tree next to the river bank—providing shade from the sunlight. Nature sat down and I followed suit, sitting cross-legged. I stared at Nature in silence. She looked at me quietly, unoffended as my eyes trace over the stormy swirls I saw in her body. Nature was so… fascinating.

Lost in captivation, I sat in peace for a while; Nature didn’t disturb me. Soon my attention was drawn elsewhere. Ahead of us—where there was no undergrowth in the way, I could see the fields in the distance being cut off by a wall of giant, no—freaking hugeburning swords. Fucking burning swords!

“This is the Realm of Conception,” Nature said. “The first one we created. It was a test run of sorts. Here we hold the Tree of Life. Those blades you see prevent beings from acquiring what lies beyond. “

My brow furrowed. “And what lies beyond?”

Nature smiled. “My, my, such an inquisitive child. Beyond the blades of fire exists the source and paths to other dimensions. The omniverse if you will.”

Well, that sounded like a pretty big deal.

Nature nodded her head like she had read my thoughts.”It is. Alas, discussing the creation of the Seven Realms is not why I called you here. Like I said before, you’re not dead: I only wanted to talk to you.”

Some god who created the freaking universe wanted to talk to little ole me?

“Of course,” Nature said. “I wanted to personally speak to you because of the events that may happen in your future.”

Suddenly, I felt an uneasy feeling in my stomach. I hoped this wasn’t the part where the mysterious god gives the main character a grand prophecy—in which I had to save the world or something. That wouldn’t be good.

“What do you mean?” I asked, slowly.

“Soon you will come into remembrance of who you really are.”

“Is that supposed to be deep or something?”I asked. “Or easy to understand? Because that’s pretty vague.”

Nature actually laughed. “You and your sister were created in The Most High’s and our image. The half of a creator and a messenger.”

She knew about Tiffany? Of course, she did, she made everything. But I still didn’t understand what she was on about.

“That’s still vague,” I said.

Nature smiled mischievously. “Is it?”

The edges of my lips lifted upward slightly. It looked as if that would be all the information I would get out of her on that. I was kind of annoyed she wouldn’t give a straight answer, but I couldn’t stay that way for long. Her peaceful, joyful demeanor was infectious.

“I am sure Kazuya will explain everything to you in more detail. In due time.”

Kazuya? The fox guy?

Nature nodded. “Now that he has realized who the both of you are, he will probably have a vested interest in protecting you and your sister. But I want to talk to you about Tiffany.”

My posture straightened as my face became serious. She had my full attention.

“I ask a favor of you,” she said. “As I see it, the future may become a struggle for you both. You may have to face the darkest parts of yourself, great trials and tribulations. Even death. But you will come across old allies. Ready and waiting to aid you.”

I inhaled deeply and then let go. Trying to take everything Nature had dropped on me.

“I need you to protect your sister and keep her on the right path no matter what happens because you both will need each other more than ever before.”

I snorted. ”Of course. I promise.” She didn’t even need to ask.

Nature gave me a warm smile.

The world started to fade. I was pulled back through a black void, looking at Nature still sitting on the grassy fields, her face still smiling. It was like I was looking at a television screen from afar. Soon the image of the endless garden disappeared only leaving pure black.

I felt myself floating through the darkness. The void of space.

Then—

oOo

I opened my eyes. Tiffany and the injured Kazuya were hovering over me as I was lying on the grass. I sat up with a start, looking around. We were next to a river, close to a bridge a few feet away from the sidewalk that went under it. It was still night.

Was all that a dream? I mused.

“Ems! You’re up!” Tiffany exclaimed, hectically grabbing a hold of me “Are you alright?”

“Tiff…” I muttered. I was still disoriented from that dream. Kazuya was inspecting his gaze, looking at my body. I looked at Kazuya’s injuries—he still didn’t have any damn clothes on! I could feel the blood rushing to my face as my eyes wandered downward; I hurriedly shifted my gaze upwards, focusing on his muscled chest so as not to stare at his dick. Christ. I wasn’t a prude but that didn’t mean I wanted all that waving around in my face.

I shook my head and then looked down at my own body. The shirt I was wearing was torn to pieces, my bra the only thing shielding my upper body from the elements. Two long lines that looked like scabs traveled from my shoulders to the abdomen, crisscrossing at the middle of my chest forming an ‘x.’

That was surprising. I was pretty sure that Tartys guy had nearly sliced me in half. My wounds didn’t feel deep. Heck, I didn’t feel them at all.

“Ems, are you alright?” Tiffany repeats, worried as she hugged me tightly. This girl was going to kill me. “How could you be so stupid?”

I gave her a soft smile. “What happened?”

“You were an idiot,” Kazuya growled. “That’s what happened. You stepped in the way of that Arcadian’s attack.”

“Yeah. To save your ass,” Tiffany snarked.

“I don’t need saving, especially from little girls.”

Tiffany rolled her eyes. “Says the guy bleeding all over the place after nearly getting his head put on a pike by that ninja angel woman. Great. Not only are you a useless cannibal who walks around butt-ass-naked like a degenerate, but you smell like a wet dog, and worst of all you’re sexist!”

It was Kazuya’s turn to roll his eyes. “Really child?”

“If you’re gonna be a fucking douche, I’ll be one right back. “

Kazuya smirked. “How uncouth.” He muttered something else about acting like humans before looking back at me.

“That guy cleaved through me with his sword, right?” I asked. “Why wasn’t I cut to ribbons?”

“You should have been,” Kazuya said. “If I didn’t have enough energy to stabilize you, you would’ve bled out. Nine times out of ten you would have been killed instantly by that kind of attack. Fortunately for you, you’re more durable than most.”

“You healed me?”

Kazuya nodded, briefly. “Something like that. I used magic.”

Tiffany scoffed.

Kazuya ignored her but continued his explanation since I looked skeptical. “Do you remember what I told you of vapor? I don’t have much left so I did the next best thing. I manipulated the natural vapor of the environment. Unfortunately, I’m too tired to properly control it. Magic is dangerous to use when low on spiritual energy even if you’re controlling an external source. An inexperienced caster can kill themselves. I was barely able to revive you.”

“Hmm…” I mumbled looking down at where the scars left by Tartys’ twin blades.

“You heal rapidly,” Kazuya says. “In a few days, those will be nothing but light blemishes on your skin.”

“That’s not what I was worried about,” I said. “I’m trying to figure out what excuse we’ll give to Mom when she sees us come in the house with torn up clothes .”

Kazuya snorted.

“That’s the last thing you should be worried about,” Tiffany said, still holding me firmly.

“How did we get here anyway, where are those… Arcadians?”

Tiffany titled her head toward Kazuya. “Fox-boy saved us. He threw his spear down and made it explode. Like a flashbang.”

“A diversion, yes,” Kazuya agreed. “Then I carried the both of you as far I could.”

“Won’t they come after us?”

“Yes,” Kazuya said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I won’t be able to hold them off this time. A problem that could have been avoided if someone didn’t jump in front of an attacking Arcadian like an imbecile.”

“It was to save your life!” Tiffany said.

I grabbed her shoulder, holding her back before she could launch herself at the Valterian. “Stop! We’re in too much shit to fight among ourselves. Kazuya, you’re right I was stupid, but I didn’t just run in there on a whim. Well, I kinda did. But still. I have a strange feeling about you. You know us. Right? Nature told me about you.”

I felt apprehensive adding on the last few words about Nature. What if she wasn’t real, only part of a dream world? Kazuya would think I’d lost it.

“Nature? What do you mean Ems?”

Kazuya gaze changed, his golden eyes became sharp pupils like a fox. He stared at me solemnly.

“She mentioned me, hmm? Interesting,” Kazuya turned his back toward us. He looked up at the dark sky. “We need to move. The Arcadians will probably track us to this place soon”

“Why?” Tiffany asked. “They’re only after you. Why don’t you go and leave us here?”

Kazuya shook his head chuckling. “I already told you. They would assume you’re accomplices based on how much I’ve protected you and the fact that your sister attempted to stop one of them. Besides, I know they wouldn’t leave you alone anyway.”

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “It seems we still have means of an escape. They haven’t noticed your vapor signatures, and my vapor is at an all time low. I don’t have to put in that much work to hide it from their awareness.”

“Then it’s settled,” I said, standing up. “Kazuya, will you come home with us?”

Tiffany looked like she swallowed a frog. “Are you crazy, Mercy?”

I had to stifle a laugh as I looked at her expression, but managed to put on a stern face. “He knows something about us. More than we do, and I want answers. Think about it. We could be Hallowed!”

Tiffany shook her head. “You think by taking him home and asking nicely he’ll answer for free?”

“Ladies,” Kazuya said, cutting in. “As much as I find this conversation amusing, I must remind you that time is of the essence.”

Kazuya changed, his body getting smaller. He morphed. His skin rapidly grew fur as his hands turned into paws. Within seconds, the tall man before us had transformed into a small fox, with abnormally fluffy tails. He was still wounded, but there wasn’t as much blood coming from his body as before.

He turned to face us. “I take this form when I am at my limit and need to recover out of sight. The Arcadians will not notice me like this.

Kazuya spoke, not through his snout of the fox, but through our minds.

“You’ve gotta be shitting me,” Tiffany muttered.

I huffed. “This actually works better for us. We don’t have to sneak a half-dead naked guy into our basement.”

Tiffany shook her head with a smirk. “This is freaking crazy.”

“I know.”

I grabbed Kazuya from off the ground and carried him, ignoring his complaints. Tiffany and I walked to the main road away from the river bridge, noticing we were only a few blocks away from our suburban complex. Only a half an hour until I could relax in a nice warm bed.

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Awakening 1.3

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Nothing Else Matters But The Feeling

“—Eat us alive?” I asked, coughing out my words, stomach twisting in fear.

Kazuya paused, then he smiled. “Do you think I’m going to feast on you, tearing you apart limb from limb? As filling as you may be, I don’t think you’d taste any good. I’m not that barbaric.”

Well. That was good news. I guess.

Kazuya’s tails started to twitch and raise. “I’m only going to absorb the rest of your vapor so I can get away from those annoying pests.”

I turned around fully to get a better look at him. “Vapor? You mentioned that before,” I said.

I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, but if he was taking something from us I doubted that it would be good.

Kazuya sighed. “Really… I don’t like giving lengthy explanations to people who will die the next moment. But, I guess that would make it more amusing.”

Tiffany’s hand tightened around mine. “Ems…”

“Vapor is your spiritual energy, or rather your condensed spiritual matter. The very essence of your being,” Kazuya said. “Your life force.”

Kazuya raised a glowing hand. His fingernails had transformed into long sharp claws. “I’m going to rip that essence out of you both.”

“The hell you will!” Tiffany said, turning around and pulling me away from Kazuya.

My sister and I turned away from Kazuya running away from him as fast as we could. He didn’t move. He said something a little bit louder so we could hear himbut I couldn’t make it out—I was too focused on running, the adrenaline finally kicking in. Must have been the fastest I’ve ever had run in my life.

Kazuya didn’t seem worried about his prey escaping, however.

“Really now? A game of tag?”

In a flash his tails shot forward, grabbing us. Tiffany and I cried out helplessly as the strong furry appendages wrapped around our bodies, hoisting us up in the air. Kazuya chuckled at our pitiful effort of running away, before pulling us toward him with his tails.

Before Kazuya could finish, a golden light had appeared from the horizon—heading straight for him. Kazuya noticed immediately, his tails dropped us as he already started to dodge the golden comet before it impacted the ground where he stood.

I hit the grass with a thud, crying out in pain as I landed on my shoulder. Tiffany laid on the ground stunned for a minute before getting up and coming to my aid. It wasn’t a big fall. Kazuya didn’t lift us high enough to break our necks, but it still hurt. I was a delicate girl, you know.

Tiffany helped me up, holding my shoulder so I could balance myself. We looked at the new crater that had appeared where Kazuya was just standing moments ago. Shekhinah was there now, lance at the ready.

Kazuya didn’t seem worried at all. “You’re becoming such a pest, Shekah. Did you ditch your teammates?”

Shekhinah gritted her teeth, looking angrier than ever. “Don’t call me that name,” she said, her voice emphasizing every syllable. “You have no right!”

“Ah, you wound me. Still, you think you fight me alone? Do you not trust your subordinates as much as you try to make yourself believe?”

Shekhinah huffed. “My faith in them is unshakeable, but I work best alone. You won’t escape this time Kazuya.”

Kazuya only laughed in response.

His laugh was briefly cut off as a blood-red spear jutted toward his head. He dodged it easily with a speed my eyes could barely register. Shekhinah attacked again with another spear jab, Kazuya parried the blow with a glowing tail before it could strike his side.

Shekhinah pushed off the ground, jumping backward and twisting the lance around her body, acrobatically. She was like a freaking ninja! Shekhinah resumed her attack stance.

Kazuya smirked at her, leaning lazily on one leg. Shekhinah frowned, rushing Kazuya again. Kazuya and Shekhinah moved through the clearing in a flash. Strike after strike, blow after blow. Shekhinah kept on attacking with her spear, aiming low to take out Kazuya’s legs, before moving up to his midsection. Kazuya kept on parrying her strikes with his tails infused with golden energy.

Shekhinah kept up the pressure, pushing Kazuya back with heavy strikes in close quarters before jumping backward every few seconds to make a little distance. She was agile enough to avoid being grabbed by his tails. She had enough stamina to keep going and wear Kazuya down.

No doubt Kazuya knew this as well. Shekhinah hadn’t even scratched him yet, but he was slowly being pushed backward by her barrage of strokes. Like a hundred per second. Couldn’t really tell, it was like they were moving at the speed of sound. One moment they were visible and the next they’d disappear.

But even I could tell Kazuya was getting slower. His tails started to miss simple counters and he had to resort to dodging Shekhinah’s attacks. Shekhinah must have realized this too, going into overdrive with faster strikes.
Surprised by the Shekhinah’s sudden increase in power, Kazuya tripped while attempting to avoid being gutted. Shekhinah immediately took advantage of that new given opportunity. The atmosphere around the area started to change. The air became thick, it felt hard to breath. A green aura of energy surrounded the spear and she held it at about the level of Kazuya’s heart.

For the first time, Kazuya eyes showed true fear.

She’s going to kill him.

Kazuya moved, lifting his body upward as soon as Shekhinah pushed the spear down. The blade from Shekhinah’s lance ended up piercing straight through Kazuya’s shoulder as he forced himself upon it. He had stopped Shekhinah from activating whatever she was trying to do with his body.

Kazuya let out a loud cough. “Ah. that really hurts, Shekah.”

Shekhinah narrowed her eyes, fully aware that her spear was still embedded under Kazuya’s collarbone. They disengaged at once, Shekhinah tore the blade away from Kazuya’s body. Blood spewed everywhere.

Shekhinah and Kazuya swiftly put some distance between each other. Shekhinah lifted her lance, ready to go another bout. Kazuya panted as blood poured from his new wound. He held the arm of the wounded shoulder with his other hand.

“You’re going to have to do better than that if you want to kill me, Shekhinah.”

Shekhinah gave him a look almost akin to pity. Three other balls of light landed on park grass from the air above. Shekhinah’s subordinates, Caphriel and Aleph surrounded the wounded Valterian while Tartys checked up on Shekhinah. The two Arcadians talked amongst themselves for a moment, presumably going over how they were going to play the following scenario. Kazuya eyes were focused on Shekhinah but he would probably be ready for an attack by Caphriel and Aleph at a moments notice.

After their short talk, Shekhinah and Tartys joined the other two Arcadians in surrounding Kazuya—effectively blocking any way he could escape. Kazuya turned his head to look at us for a moment before returning his attention to the four opponents around him. Caphriel and Tartys moved weapons in hand performing a pincer attack.

Shekhinah hung back while charging up her spear with that green venomous looking energy. She must’ve been aiming to finish the job after the two other Arcadians attacked. Even if Kazuya were to dodge the blades from Caphriel and Tartys, there was probably no way he’d notice her coming. Aleph stood even further back than Shekhinah, probably for support.

Instead of trying to evade or fight them off individually, Kazuya created a wall with his tails, causing the two Arcadians to stop running in mid-stride. Kazuya smirked and took advantage of the opening. To head straight for us.

“Stop!” Shekhinah ordered.

Caphriel and Tartys stopped pursuing Kazuya at once. They turned back to give Shekhinah questioning looks.

Kazuya cackles with laughter, while still running toward us. “What’s wrong Shekhinah? The life of humans normally wouldn’t stop you from attacking. Or are you worried about me consuming their life force before you’re able to land your final blow?”

Shekhinah didn’t respond, giving us an odd look. Kazuya had stopped running as well, even though he was much closer to us than before.

“Unfortunately,” Kazuya said with narrowed eyes, now facing us, “I’ve realized something about you two brats. I can’t kill you.”

I blinked. Tiffany looked equally shocked. Did he mean he literally couldn’t kill us? Or was there another reason?

“I guess that’s good news,” Tiffany muttered.

Kazuya made a sound of annoyance. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a position where I might actually die. So unbecoming.”

Kazuya closed his eyes and then reopened them. I shuddered. His eyes had changed. No longer were his eyes a vibrant gold but now an alluring dark purple and blue. It was as if they were redesigned—the irises of his eyes looking like purple flowers, a kaleidoscope full of petals.

Kazuya faced Shekhinah and her warriors, giving her a vulpine grin.

Shekhinah didn’t seem impressed. “Mystic Eyes of Knowledge? Using that in the state you’re in now will only make your death come more quickly.”

Kazuya, still smiling barred his teeth. “Taking you all to hell with me makes it worth it.”

A golden ball of energy formed in Kazuya’s hand. The ball lengthened itself turning into a long weapon. Slowly the pole of energy molded itself—more accurately, Kazuya molded it without even touching it. I watched in amazement as Kazuya finished creating a perfect replica of Shekhinah’s spear. He pulled it out of thin air like it was created from scratch. A green aura of energy engulfed his spear, it was the same technique Shekhinah used.

“Alright children,” Kazuya said. “It’s time for you to die.”

Shekhinah frowned grimly and took her stance, her blade glowing with the same aura. The rest of her Arcadian teammates did the same. They charged. Kazuya opted to fight off his opponents with his recreated spear, using the same style Shekhinah was using. He would still use his energy covered tails to block blind spot attacks.

But something was off. I could feel it. Whatever energy Kazuya was talking about earlier, he was losing it. Getting weaker.

Kazuya backed off from the four Arcadians and fell to one knee, tired.

I flinched. My head started to hurt.

Images appeared in my mind. Those visions. About the castle… the land of three suns. My mind shifted. I was in a land of angels. A place with golden cities and crystal clear waters… I remember being carried, looking up at faces of two angelic beings as my sister and I were given to a man with long white hair, fox ears, and nine tails.

“They’re going to kill him,” I said suddenly, without thinking.

Tiffany glanced at me. “You say that like it’s a bad thing. He was going to eat us.”

“I don’t think so,” I said while rubbing my head, the broken visions still clouding my mind. “It doesn’t feel right.”

I start to move forward. A hand stopped me.

“Mercy,” Tiffany said. “What the hell are you thinking?”

I remained silent.

Ems!

I shrugged her hand off my arm and ran toward Kazuya, Tiffany followed yelling and cursing at me. Reaching Kazuya he turned his face to look at me like I was an idiot. “Fool! Get out of the way!”

“You know something about us, don’t you?” I asked, focusing completely on his kaleidoscopic eyes, they really were alluring. “I can feel it.”

“Mercy!”

Tiffany screamed my name as Tartys appeared from the air, swinging his twin blades downward to kill Kazuya with his finishing blow. Kazuya’s eyes widened, caught by surprise. He couldn’t move in time. Instinctively I tossed myself in front of him as a shield.

As the blades tore through my chest—feeling searing pain, I cried out wordlessly as my world went white.

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Awakening 1.2

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Hello and Goodbye

The air was still tense, eerily still, after the angel woman gave her command. My mouth was dry. I still couldn’t move. I couldn’t process what was going on. Our lives had been fairly normal up till now. We had never directly come across hallowed before, even while living in Ravensworth, a city that had one of the highest cape populations in the states.

Now, after somehow being able to avoid capes all that time, Tiffany and I found ourselves in the middle of an altercation between five of them.

This is insane!

Tiffany had gotten her bearings under control faster than I did.

“Valterian?” she asked, facing the angel leader. “Isn’t that like… Nexus?”

Hearing her calm voice caused me to ease up a bit. I glanced at her. “Valterian?” I asked.

“Yeah, you remember what we learned in history class? About the father of the Galaxia chick? He’s the only hero that’s not a hallowed, he came from a different planet or somethingI think it’s called…Valteria. He’s like an alien.”

Now that Tiffany mentioned it, I did recall Nexus being mentioned some point in Mr. Tate’s class. It must have been during our review on cape history. He was a popular hero, leader of the famous Omniversals. It was common knowledge that Nexus wasn’t from Earth but I wasn’t sure if we studied his place of origin in class. Tiffany must have learned that research on her own. She was a cape geek, even more so than I was.

The angel woman gave her a slight frown. “Although you are somewhat correct, Nexus and the other Valterians are not aliens in the way you think they are. Nexus isn’t the first or only Valterian to be on this planet either.”

So… were the group of angels also Valterians like the man lying on the ground?

“Now,” the angel woman said, breaking off her tangent. “It’s imperative that the two of you step away from that man. He’s a dangerous criminal wanted for acts of aggression against Arcadia and the Twelve Celestial Kingdoms— ”

Woah-whoa-whoa, What? Arcadia? The Twelve—muh-what?” Tiffany asked, voicing my questions for me. Confused as I was.

The angel woman made a sound of annoyance, surprised someone had the audacity to cut her off. I would have been annoyed too, cut off by a little brat who wouldn’t let me finish explaining something so important. “That’s none of your concern children.”

She turned to face her Arcadian subordinates. “Caphriel, Tartys—set up the transport barrier. Aleph, prepare to assist with barrier maintenance and stabilization.”

The Arcadian warriors gave quick acknowledgment of their leader’s command before they went to work.

“Please stand back,” Caphriel, the other female Arcadian said.

Tiffany and I backed away as the three other Arcadians approached. Caphriel and Tartys stood a few feet from the Valterian. Their bodies started to glow with a golden energy.

They erected a small transparent barrier around the body of the fallen Valterian while Aleph positioned himself closer to the glass bubble of energy. He touched the barrier with both arms extended. The barrier started to become less transparent; it was becoming solidified.

“Starting stabilization process,” Aleph said.

Before he could finish whatever he was doing, the atmosphere changed. The fallen Valterian’s eyes opened slightly. So he actually was alive. I almost doubted that, with the way he was bleeding and all.

The angel woman’s eyes widened, she noticed a little bit before I did. “Get back!” she yelled.

The fox Valterian crouched on all fours and let out a feral roar, his tails stretching and wreathing outward. The barrier shattered like glass, instantly. The force of his roar created a wind-like pressure—strong enough to blow us all backward. My head was spinning, my eardrums were being ripped apart.

My feet had left the ground. For a moment I was caught up in fear, wondering what happened. It was like we were caught in a freaking hurricane. I felt the blunt pain travel across my back as I hit the ground with a thud.

I was going to be feeling that in the morning.

I sat up, looking around for Tiffany. “Tiffany! Are you okay?”

I turned around to find her stirring a few feet away from me on the flat part of the asphalt. The fox guy was able to throw us out of the crater by just yelling? I stood up slowly and ran to my sister, favoring my left leg.

“…Mercy? What the hell is going on…?” she asked in a soft voice as I helped her up.

“Apparently, we’ve just found ourselves in the middle of a cape fight,” I said, glancing back at the Arcadian warriors readying their weapons at the fox Valterian.

“No kidding,” Tiffany said. She let out a whistle of admiration. “And that fox dude is packing.”

“Yeah—what…?” I asked, my question trailing off. Taking another look at the fox guy, I could feel my face start to heat up as I caught on to the double meaning of Tiffany’s words.

He was butt-naked and had no qualms about it, a cocky grin showing on his face. His wounds had stopped bleeding.

My eyes traveled downward toward his lower extremities.

He…was well endowed.

Tiffany laughed as she saw my mouth hanging open.

“He’s so big and cuddly, with those huge tails of his,” she said. “And gorgeous hair. A sexy body too. Just your type, right?”

Words were caught in my thought. “T-Tiff! Are you serious?”

Tiffany laughed again. “What? Am I lying?”

Really? At a time like this?”

I shook my head trying to focus and pay attention, attempting not to stare at the Valterian’s crotch. Yeah, he was pretty hot, but that was the last thing I cared about in this situation since both my sister and I could end up being killed!

“Why the hell haven’t we run away yet?” I asked Tiffany in a low voice. “We need to get out of here.”

Tiffany didn’t react. I didn’t know if it was because she was ignoring me or because she was too focused on naked-fox-guy swinging his business around.

The Valterian turned to face the angel leader. His smirk widened as he scoffed.

“You thought such a weak barrier could hold me, Shekhinah?”

Aleph tightened the grip on his twin blades. “His wounds have healed?”

Shekhinah held out her hand. Golden energy formed. She materialized an exotic looking lance. It was blood-red, with a small but lengthy blade at its tip. It was pretty as it was deadly.

“Do not be overwhelmed by fear, Aleph,” Shekhinah said. “He’s still damaged internally from all that fighting, no matter how much he tries to hide it. We can stop him. Take positions!”

Shekhinah took an attack stance. Her body in a form she must have perfected long ago. The other Arcadians followed suit. Caphriel, with a rapier in hand, stood by Shekhinah while Tartys and Aleph positioned themselves behind the Valterian.

I swallowed, rooted to where I stood. Things were about to get real.

“Hah—You’ve become quite ruthless Shekhinah, trying so hard to kill me. Did our break up scar you that badly? No?”

He gestured with his hands. “Or perhaps you’re desperate to prove that you haven’t betrayed your king? Hmm? Ace messenger of the Twelve Celestial Kingdoms—Loyal warrior of Kairanna?”

Well, that was a mouthful. The other Arcadians paused for a moment at his words. Their postures had changed slightly. It wasn’t too pronounced, I barely had time to notice before they hid their concern.

“The Valterian speaks lies,” Shekhinah said. “Do not listen to such nonsense. He is trying to break us apart. Poison our minds with deceit and doubt.”

The fox man tilted his head. “Is that really the case?”

“Yes!” Shekhinah hissed. “You are nothing but a liar, a manipulative scoundrel of the highest order—Kazuya, reprobate nine-tailed fox of the Fox clan! Even the Valterians saw fit to banish you!”

Kazuya shook his head, amused. “I see. Let me correct the faulty information that leaves you so clearly confused. I was not banished from Valteria, I simply left after a misunderstanding with Decimatus.”

Shekhinah gritted her teeth. “Misunderstanding is putting it lightly.”

Kazuya started to glow, a golden aura surrounding his body.

“Mmm,” he mumbled. His tails started to twist in the air. “You’re entitled to your opinion, my fair messenger. I must thank you for giving me enough time to replenish some of my vapor. It’s always a pleasure to reminisce.”

“What? Stop him!” Shekhinah ordered as Kazuya’s body started to shine a vibrant white, lighting up the night road even more.

“Woah…” I muttered, looking at the glowing nine-tailed fox.

“Yeah,” Tiffany agreed.

The Arcadians rushed to attack Kazuya but it was too late.

Brightness filled my vision.

Then all I could see was white.

Pure white.

My body had disappeared and I had found myself in a void of light. I felt like I was floating on thin air. An out of body experience. Like I was a ghost. Pretty freaky.

Within a moment the sensation passed.

Tiffany and I found ourselves lying on the cold grass in a tangled mess. Confused, we fought each other off for a couple of seconds – not realizing what just happened.

“Hey! Calm down it’s me!” Tiffany said after I gave her a good shove.

“Yeah, I know,” I replied with a smirk.

“You little bitch,” Tiffany said, enunciating each syllable slowly – grabbing hold of me like she thought I was irresistible. I pushed her off. We could play around later.

“Where are we?” I asked, looking around.

We stood the middle of a large field next to a walkway with park benches along the side. A bunch of trees were on both sides of the clearing. It was kind of hard to see since there was hardly any light but I could tell we were in a park of some sort.

“Maybe we’re in North Park?” Tiffany asked, glancing my way for confirmation.

“….Probably? How did we get here?”

“I don’t know. What makes you think I know?”

“I’m just asking, Tiff.”

“Well, I’m just not knowing the answer, Ems.”

I rolled my eyes. “Shut up.”

“That fox guy,” Tiffany said, “He must have done something. He was shining so brightly.”

I nodded. “And then we ended up here.”

I could hear the sound rustling of grass behind us. Tiffany and I turned around at once. Kazuya—the fox guy from before was following us, some of his tails trailing on the ground.

“My, my,” he said as he approached us. “I must really be on my last legs if I couldn’t concentrate well enough to bring only myself.”

Kazuya sighed. “Shekhinah, you really are quite tenacious.”

“W-what did you do to us?” I asked.

Kazuya focused his attention on me, his feral eyes looking me up and down. A chill ran down my spine. I was shaking. This guy was dangerous.

“Simple teleportation, my dear. I accidentally took you along for the ride. Nothing for you to worry your little cute head over.”

Teleportation?

“Wow,” Tiffany said after some silence. “So you’re a cape. Why are those angel people after you? They messed you up pretty good.”

Kazuya frowned. Yikes. Tiffany should have known better than to offend the crazy fox guy. “Do not compare me to humans, brat. Those four little cubs couldn’t harm me if their lives depended on it.”

Kazuya glanced upward toward the sky. “I had a small bout with the previous Valterian King and then ran into Corinath, that frustrating man.”

“Corinath?” I asked.

“The one who leads Arcadia,” he replied.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Kazuya was probably a very strong cape. I wasn’t sure if I actually believed the whole Valterian-alien thing but after seeing Kazuya here? This whole situation? Nothing was too outlandish anymore.

My mind was teeming with questions. Who were those guys? Who was Kazuya? Why haven’t we heard anything about them before now? Why wouldn’t Kazuya put on some damn pants?

Before Tiffany and I could say anything else. Kazuya looked pointedly toward his left, off in the distance.

“The Arcadians will be here soon,” he said.

“You mean those angel people from before?” Tiffany asked.

Kazuya ignored her. “No matter how much I would like to pretend, I don’t have enough strength to take them on right now. I pretty much used all of it getting us here.”

“Then, what are we going to do?” I asked, worried.

Kazuya looked at us thoughtfully. “Well, nothing my dear. I moved locations to simply buy time after all.”

“Buy time? How’s that going to work?”

“Well you see,” Kazuya said, “The Arcadians will come here and probably kill us all. Me and you by association.”

Kill us?

“B-but—” I stuttered.

“But we didn’t do anything!” Tiffany exclaimed.

“Ah, I know,” Kazuya said. “It’s truly unfortunate, but that’s how things are when it comes to them. They are rigid and bound by rules. Anyone who goes against the Arcadian kingdoms is treated like a heretic to be purged.”

Kazuya had moved closer to us. I had a bad feeling.

“They definitely wouldn’t let you live after you heard all that you did tonight,” Kazuya said. “And that’s a real shame since you both have so much vapor for human beings. Enough spirit energy that I could use it to fight them off.”

Kazuya’s eyes narrowed, his lips twisted into a wicked grin as he barred his teeth. “Perhaps I should do you girls a favor. Instead of having a wasted death, why don’t I eat you alive?”

Previous Next

Awakening 1.1

Previous Next

Two Girls, An Angel, and The Fox

I laid down on the bed with a thud, my mind in a daze. My head hurt, my brain was fuzzy and I couldn’t really think.

Did I throw up?

Broken images appeared in my mind. Images of young children playing together in an open field next to a giant castle. I was there with them in that clearing, running around—my long reddish-brown hair swaying in the wind, as happy as I could be.

A memory?

No that couldn’t be right. I must have been dreaming.

There were many of us, children that lived at the castle. The castle of the Dragon King. It was in the land of three suns. A world that had seven moons. A magical place full of mythical creatures, anthropomorphic beings, and even people.

Among those that had lived in the castle, my twin and I only had a few close friends. But they were the best in the world. There were nine of us, some children of royalty and some of the servants. Some were girls, some were boys. We’d practically spend every waking moment together.

The two older kids of the group—A girl that had teeth like a vampire and a boy with angel wings, would often watch us, at the request of the adults. To make sure we didn’t get into too much trouble.

I couldn’t remember their names, but I thought of them fondly.

Nothing could take the happiness that we shared away from us.

The lands outside were rampant with war and corruption, but we were kept safe by those castle walls.

More vivid images assaulted my mind. I could remember watching a child being dragged off to the dungeon with his family by guards for execution. His parents were convicted of treason. The King’s daughter, the princess, and I were distraught. But there was nothing we could do.

I remembered seeing people being slaughtered in the capital streets as enemy militia tried to lay siege to the castle. The fallout was terrible for both sides. Many dead bodies littered the city streets. Civilians were even caught in the crossfire.

After witnessing that, I wished for something to change. I wished for a better world. A place where people didn’t have to fight and die, like nothing. A place where people could always get their needs taken care of so war and destruction could be avoided.

I made a promise to my sister after that day.

I told Tiffany I’d do whatever I could to create that place.

That utopia.

The strange images left my mind, fading out slowly. I started to forget about the vivid memory-like dreams.

Coming to, I found myself back on the bed in a small room. I opened my eyes. My vision was still blurry and I couldn’t feel my face. A teenage boy hovered over top of me. He was holding down my arms above my head.

What was going on?

I knew who he was. Timothy. My ex-boyfriend. I looked around the small room glancing at the wall filled with movie and band posters. We were in his room.

I remembered.

He was throwing a house party at night after the school football game. His parents weren’t home for the weekend, so he’d have the huge house all to himself. Tiffany, her boyfriend Terra Eatos, and I decided to stop by on a whim. Somehow I had gotten myself into this mess.

I must have been drinking like an idiot.

Timothy leaned downward, his body pressing against mine. He smelled nice. His lips around my neck felt pleasant. But… something wasn’t right.

“What happened?” I asked in a slurred voice.

Timothy ignored my questions as he continued to feel me up.

A spark of fear started to travel down my spine. I shifted my body attempting to roll away from him. “Stop it,” I said, more urgently.

Timothy’s grip tightened holding me in place.

“Relax.”

I made a groan in complaint.

The smile on his face changed to a dissatisfied frown.

“Come on Mercy,” he urged. “You still like me don’t you?”

I was confused by his question. My head was still fuzzy. Didn’t he break up with me? I closed my eyes. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter was that I still had feelings for him.

“Y-yes,” I said, the words escaping my lips before I could hold them back.

Timothy smirked, pleased with my answer.

He proceeded to move his face downward in an attempt to kiss me. He immediately stopped as the door to his room was busted open. Tiffany quickly walked in with an angry expression on her face. Terra was not far behind.

Tiffany rocked the same low braided pigtail look I did, but wore a darker outfit compared to me, composed of a black off-shoulder tee and low cut pixie shorts. Terra wore a tight hoodie with jeans. Terra looked very feminine and his long brown hair did nothing to alleviate that fact. He was often mistaken for a girl before people heard him speak.

Timothy quickly stood up and backed away as my sister ran to me.

“What the fuck are you doing!?” she shouted, giving Timothy a glare that could kill.

“I was just—” Timothy started, trying to explain himself while approaching us.

“Terra!” she said.

Terra immediately moved to intercept Timothy, grabbing his arm to hold him back.

Timothy tsked. “Are you fucking serious?” he asked in a loud voice, clearly annoyed.

“Back off, and stop moving,” Terra said, holding a struggling Timothy from moving away. “This? What you’re doing here? It’s not cool.”

Timothy rolled his eyes, his lips widened into a smirk. “We were just having a little fun,” he said offhandedly.

Tiffany frowned and made a sound akin to a snarl. “Bullshit! You tried to fucking rape my sister!”

Timothy shook his head in exasperation. His body seemed tenser than a moment before. Terra still didn’t let him go, his silverish eyes were trained on him.

“What the hell are you even talking about? She agreed to come up here with me and one thing led to another,” Timothy said. “We wouldn’t even be in this position if she didn’t want it.”

“She’s fucking drunk, you fuckhead,” Tiffany said. “She’s practically passed out here!”

Tiffany shook her head. “I should have expected this from a fuckboy like you. I don’t know what Mercy sees in you.”

“Look alright, I’ll back off. We’re all pretty buzzed. A bad judgment call. I wasn’t thinking clearly.”

“No shit, rapist,” Tiffany muttered with a glare.

Oh fuck off, Tiffany,” Timothy said, his calm facade cracking. “Always starting some bullshit.”

“Believe me, I’m finishing it too.”

Timothy laughed. It didn’t sound nice. He glanced at Terra still keeping him away from us. Timothy finally shrugged off Terra’s hand. Terra must’ve loosened his grip.

“What?” Timothy asked. “You gonna fight me too, pretty boy?”

Terra gave him a look then shook his head. “Nah,” he said quietly.

Timothy chuckled. “Wow. Not gonna fight your girlfriend’s battles for once? I’m surprised. You’re not as whipped as I thought.”

Terra scoffed. “Anyone of us could kick your ass. Even Mercy when she gets better.”

Timothy frowned and gave him a sour look. “I’m sure,” he said dryly.

He shouldered past Terra, walking to the doorway of his room. Loud music could be heard blasting from downstairs as he creaked open the door. “You can let Mercy rest in my bed. I need to get back to the party before those guys run out of control. See you guys downstairs,” he paused. “Or not.”

He left.

Terra watched him go. A hard fist connected with his shoulder.

Terra flinched away from Tiffany after she hit him.

“Why didn’t you punch him?” she asked.

One side of Terra’s lips quirked upward. “I thought you were gonna do it.”

“Yeah, I would have if you did. We could have beaten him up together. It would be a good bonding experience for our relationship.”

Terra laughed.

There was a moment of silence as that look glanced at me in a pitiful semi-conscious state.

“I want to kill him,” Tiffany murmured. “I wanna fuck him up.”

“Things might end up pretty badly if we did do that to him,” Terra said. “Especially, in his own home.”

“Yeah. I know. I’m just venting.”

I stirred. Tiffany and Terra automatically focused their attention on me.

“…You guys,” I muttered.

“Hey there, Ems,” Tiffany said softly, cupping the side of my face with a warm hand. “How do you feel?”

oOo

We had left the party earlier, none of us wanting to spend more time at Timothy’s place. Terra had gone home, while Tiffany insisted we walk home alone since our house was pretty close by. We had to figure out a way to sneak in the house without our parents noticing. No big deal, right?

I rubbed my forehead with a hand as we walked down the empty sidewalk. It still hurt. I still had a throbbing headache. My sister had gently explained what happened. Thoughts of Timothy and my relationship with him came to the forefront of my mind.

Did he still have feelings for me? I thought he was trying to get with Ashley. It seemed like it from how he was flirting with her at the party, how he looked at me from across the room to make sure I could see him.

What he did—trying to force himself on me while I was out of it… I had felt violated.

It was stupid to let myself be so vulnerable around him, especially since I knew I hadn’t gotten over him. It was stupid for us to go to the house party in the first place.

“You alright?” Tiffany asks, pulling me out of my depressive thoughts.

I paused for a moment before shaking my head. “I’m fine.”

We continue to walk down the dark neighborhood street. “I hope Mom and Dad haven’t figured out we’ve been out the whole night.”

“You worry too much.”

“Really? You know how they’re always up late.”

“We’ll sneak in the same way we got out, through the basement cellar door. We can wait for them to go to sleep if they’re still bumbling around the living room.”

“And if they wake up while we’re going upstairs?”

Tiffany sighed in exasperation. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

“If you say so—”

My voice stopped abruptly as I saw a light flashing in the air. I gasped. A comet, bright and golden traveled through the air at an incomprehensible speed. Heading straight for us.

Before the ball of flame hit the ground, Tiffany had sense enough to pull me out of the way. We both hit the deck, trying to shield ourselves from the explosion as the fiery ball collided with the earth.

Silence.

I opened my eyes then looked at my sister lying on the grass next to me.

“Tiff—Are you alright!?” I asked, worried.

Tiffany got up sat up slowly, and I inwardly let out a sigh of relief. She wasn’t hurt.

“The fuck was that?” she asked, glancing at me before looking at the huge crater that appeared in the middle of the sidewalk.

I shook my head. I had no idea what happened.

Tiffany stood up and cautiously began the approach the crater full of white smoke, her low knee boots clacking against the pavement. I wanted to tell her to stay back, to tell her it was dangerous. But I knew Tiffany wouldn’t listen and curiosity had gotten the best of me as well. She always had a habit of dragging me along with her.

Our eyes widened as we stood on the edge of the hole in the ground. I recoiled backward in shock, while Tiffany stood still in amazement.

Someone was in there!

In the center of the crater was the naked body of a man, unconscious. A person with nine tails extruding from his lower back and fox-like ears on his head. His face was covered by his hair. Hair extravagantly long and thick that led all the way down his backside reaching his tails. He was bleeding profusely, but I couldn’t tell from where.

“…What the hell?” I whispered.

“Yeah.” Tiffany murmured in agreement.

Whoever this guy was—was he a hallowed? He wasn’t a normal human, that was for sure.

“Ems!”

Tiffany nudged my arm and pointed for me to look upward. I did as she directed, my eyes squinting at four balls of light heading our direction. The balls of light swiftly flew toward us as they grew in size.

It was then when I could see them clearly that I realized they were also capes like the fox-man laying on the ground by our feet. Hallowed that had actively used their powers in public.

The four glowing figures paused a few feet above us, floating in the air. They looked like angelic knights, two men, and two women. They each wore beautiful golden and silver armor. Three of them had pairs of metal protected golden wings and knight-like helmets. The one in front who I assumed was the leader had a pair of three wings and had two horns extending from her helmet on both sides. Her armor was completely golden. Futuristic visors had covered each of their faces.

Both Tiffany and I looked at them in awe.

The leader floated toward us. The visor around her face disappeared, her mask and helmet disintegrated into thin air—revealing inhuman golden eyes and long blonde hair.

“Step away from the Valterian,” the angel woman commanded.

I heard her and I was sure Tiffany did as well, but we couldn’t move. Our bodies were frozen with fear. I could feel the sweat roll down my neck as I faced the angel woman’s stern, judging gaze of contempt.

What in the world had we gotten ourselves into?

Previous Next

 

Prologue III

Previous Next

Bushes rustled in the forest clearing below. Out of the forest shadows appeared a short man with small ivory bullhorns and long curly brown hair.

Raven, a tall teenage boy, formally dressed in a suit and tie, with jet black hair and thin glasses stood next to him. The boy viewed the forest treetops with a tired expression. It felt different for Raven traveling through the forest on foot. He would exercise often so endurance wasn’t his issue, however, he used to the comfort and high-speed monorails in his home, Kingdom City. Overall, he acknowledged that doing something different every once in awhile would be good for him.

“Come, Raven. We are here,” Taurus said as he faced the boy.

“I see,” Raven replied. Watching his surroundings carefully, he walked across the clearing. It seemed as if Taurus could tell that the Raven felt uncomfortable.

“It is wise to observe your environment but you should do so relaxed and still. If the enemy is experienced your fear will invite them to a group of vultures on rotten kill.” Taurus walked to a cluster of rocks and sat down with a grunt. “Besides, Aryva Vasta is the safest territory in Foresta.”

“Of course, sir,” Raven said unconvinced. “I’m just surprised we haven’t seen any serpent-elves in their supposed territory.”

The short man chuckled in amusement.

“Have I taught you nothing boy?” he continued on as Raven narrowed his eyes. “Silence your mind, control your breath and focus on the energy in the core of your body. Then push your awareness outwards.”

Raven closed his eyes and did as the man asked. It was easy to quiet his mind as he had practiced many times before. The various feelings of fear, uncertainty, and doubt melted away in the background. For the first time since the day began Raven felt peace of mind.

Raven inhaled deeply as he moved his awareness from his body to the surrounding environment. In his mind’s eye, he began to see many little glowing balls of white light and waves of energy.

Plants and animals, Raven thought.

Raven felt as if he was being watched. He could sense the presence of ominous beings in shadows around the short man and himself. Raven started to lose concentration, he knew they were being spied upon but he could not identify the location of the perpetrators.

Who were they?

Raven couldn’t get a read on them at all.

He began to see huge spheres of light packed with energy appeared slowly in his mind’s eye. Raven quickly opened his eyes at the sound of rustling bushes.

He was greeted by an assembly of human looking creatures with snake-like eyes and sharp ears. Serpent-elves. Were they hiding their presence? He glanced up at the treetops. The elves were all around them, positioned in the canopies and on the ground below.

Raven was shocked that he was unable to notice before they revealed themselves, with how near they were.

A tall serpent-elf stepped forward. From the jeweled crown on her head, anyone could tell she was royalty. Gleaming golden armbands and necklaces surrounded her in an aura of light, calculated to impress anyone looking upon her. She cast a brief smile of acknowledgment at Raven, who flinched and cast his eyes away. Then she turned to Taurus, who appeared less awed by her entrance. “It’s been a while Taurus.”

“Naga Lakshmi,” Taurus replied, with a brief nod.

Naga’s eyes glittered with amusement. Taurus seemed weary of her.

“What’s wrong Taurus? No warm greeting for an old friend?”

“You are no friend of mine,” Taurus muttered.

Naga showed an expression of mock disbelief. “How rude! Is that the way you greet a Queen?” She pouted. “After all this time I waited to see you.”

Taurus sighed closing his eyes. “Must you be so loud in the middle of the night? Why did Nature call me out here for this?”

Naga ignored his questions and waved her hand toward Raven. “Are you going to introduce me to your new apprentice?”

“Ah yes,” Taurus glanced at Raven and beckoned him forward with is hand. “Naga, this is Raven one of my greatest students.” He explained. “Raven, this is Naga the magnificent Queen of the serpent-elves.”

A mischievous smile widened across Naga’s face. “You flatter me. But then again, I am Queen of the great Sagittaria family, unlike the lesser Earthenware family. So, I must be very magnificent.”

Raven eyes widened, impressed to see her in person. The Sagittaria family was highly known throughout Avalon as the one of strongest of the Ten Royal Families, second only to the Hayzel family. The Earthenware were also a part of that class of families, lead by Taurus. Usually, the leader of a family was an Avalonian with the highest vapor or spirit energy.

Raven wondered how strong Naga’s power really was.

“Bah!” Taurus waved his hand in the air, annoyed. “How long have you and your little group of treehoppers been spying on us?”

“Don’t insult us. We’ve have been waiting here at the meeting point since this evening,” Naga said. “I wouldn’t send my royal guard out just to spy on you. You’re not nearly as important as you think you are. You should take the advice you gave to your apprentice.”

“I knew you were here,” Taurus said slowly. “I just wanted to know for how long.”

“Of course.”

Raven watched both of them with interest. He always considered himself good at reading people. Raven loved to observe others especially those of high status. He enjoyed predicting how people would act, guessing how they really thought about things so he could get what he wanted. But as far as high status went Taurus and Naga were unusual. They bickered publicly. Like siblings that were not being watched by him and the legion of serpent-elves in hidden in the shadows.

Raven turned his attention toward a serpent-elf that approached Naga from behind.

“My Queen, the other guests have arrived.”

As he finished speaking two men wearing dark colored military uniforms appeared from the bushes and walked slowly into the clearing. Raven almost had trouble seeing them.

Glyden Manus, the man smoking a cigarette, looked like an ordinary human with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a beard. The other was muscular with long red hair, cat-like eyes, and small tiger ears. Kray Malgox. Raven knew Kray was a formidable warrior after hearing about his exploits across Avalon, but he was subservient to the blonde man.

Taurus kept his distance but Naga quickly moved to greet them.

“Glyden, Kray, Welcome,” She said as she shook hands with Glyden and gave Kray a tight hug. It was an embrace so tight that Raven thought Kray would jump out of his skin.

However, the tiger eared man stayed in place and softly returned the gesture.

“It’s good to see you again, Master,” Kray said.

Naga released him slowly and smiled. “How are things in Guardian?”

“It’s been—” Kray had stopped abruptly as Glyden raised his hand to silence him. Naga narrowed her emerald eyes but her piercing gaze did not faze Glyden in the slightest.

“I know you would like to catch-up, but you can do that later. I’m sure you both received the message from Nature about what were are here to discuss,” Glyden shifted his view from Naga to Taurus.

“Of course,” Naga replied first. “I was told by one of my messengers. Something about the rise of Eternalists attacks and the disappearances of Avalonians?”

“Correct.”

Taurus shifted uncomfortably on the rocks he was seated on. “Are the Eternalists that much of a problem that we have to meet here the middle of the night to chatter like bumbling jackdaws?”

“Yes,” Glyden said seriously. “And you should know. If it’s bad enough that Nature has decided to step in and get involved it’s important. There has been an increase of Eternalist activity near Polyanima.”

“The school? Of course,” Naga sighed. She probably already knew this information. “I’m sure you know of the reason?”

“I have Intel and some theories, but I think Taurus would be the best person to answer that question.”

Raven tried to hide his smile. Taurus was the chancellor of Polyanima Academy the biggest well-renowned school in Kingdom City, full of thousands of students.

Taurus was very good at his job, but even Raven could admit that he didn’t really know the student body personally and that there was a disconnect between him and most students. Raven and others on the student council were really the only children Taurus went out of his way to communicate with.

He left most work dealing with the student body to them. It would be very hard for him to find out if anything was suspicious was going on.

Taurus frowned and crossed his arms. “I have everything at my school under control. There’s been no news of attacks or anything out of the ordinary.”

Glyden slightly bent the tip of his hat over his face. “So you say, but we need to stop this before it gets worse. The Eternalists have more supporters than we’ve have realized. Remnants of that Maker cult have merged with them as well. They may decide to join the Empire invade Guardian territory from the inside out.”

“The Makers were obliterated by the Elder Gods themselves,” Taurus said. “Any speck of those fools that still exist are of no consequence.”

“True,” Glyden replied. With a small puff of his cigarette, he faced Naga and Taurus as he continued. “But remember, we, the Three Grand Masters are the last line of defense for the freedom of Avalon from the Denrogarth Empire. The Avalonian people are relying on us.”

As he finished silence filled the clearing. It was so quiet Raven thought he could hear a pin drop. The elves hidden in undergrowth did not speak. Taurus and Naga were equally quiet.

The general of the Guardian military was quite intense.

But Glyden was right, the Denrogarth Empire was constantly expanding its borders. The king of the Denrogarth Empire, Dusk, had stolen technology and weapons from an advanced alien civilization. Because of this, he was able to rule over most of Avalon with greater efficiency. He even sent troops to the stars to conquer other planets across the galaxy. Guardian and it’s allied nations were some of the only territories on the planet hidden from Dusk’s grasp and they had to be protected.

With another puff of smoke, Glyden glanced around the clearing. “Kimba is late,” he said. “Didn’t he say he would be here?”

“Shouldn’t you know? You work under him after all,” Taurus sneered.

Glyden ignored him.

Naga closed her eyes sighed quietly to herself. “There is no way in creation that Kimba would miss Nature’s summons, but he always had a bad habit of being late when it matters most.”

She slowly placed her hands on her hips and leaned to one side. “If we are waiting for him we might be here all night.”

Naga gracefully went to join Taurus sitting a pile of rocks. Surprisingly, Raven could not help but admire her. He would almost say that she was his type, but he quickly moved those thoughts from his mind. She was royalty and too old for him anyway.

“But if it’s among friends, I don’t mind,” She continued glancing down at her legs somewhat wistful look in her eyes.

“How long has it been?” She asked. “Since we’ve all been together like this?”

Glyden and Taurus both smiled slightly. It may have seemed to any ordinary outsider that the Grand Masters did not care much for one another.

Raven knew better, though, he could almost feel the warmth they had for one another. As if they had been through countless life and death experiences together.

All fell silent as everyone heard a large rustling sound in the bushes. Raven noticed the serpent-elves bowing, making way for a tall creature.

Out of the shadows appeared a large man with red hair like the main of a lion and large clawed hands. He had on a worn brown robe and dark boots. He walked toward the center of the clearing, his tail whipping slowly around the air.

“So you three are finally getting along eh?” Kimba said with a strong deep voice. “My apologies… I was very busy preparing for the arrival of the Galactic Federation,”

“Late as always,” Taurus grumbled. “Since when have we not gotten along?”

Kimba eyed him curiously but remained silent.

Naga smiled walked to greet Kimba. “It’s good to see you again Kimba, it’s been too long.”

Glyden nodded in agreement.

“Likewise,” Kimba said. “Seeing you three together here reminds me of the days we used to travel and train together all throughout Avalon.”

Naga smiled. “You weren’t the only one who trained us then. What about your brothers and sisters? Did you forget about them?”

Kimba looked at Naga with playful eyes. “Yes, my five wonderful, pain in the tail siblings. I must have forgotten.”

Naga chuckled.

Kimba faced Taurus and had a good look at Raven. “Ah Taurus, you have finally taken on a new apprentice?” He asked. “What is your name?”

“Raven, sir.”

“I see. Nice to meet you, Raven.”

“It is an honor, leader of Guardian.”

Raven observed Kimba trying to figure him out. He had a huge menacing form even bigger than Kray, and he was warrior-born as well. His kind playfulness seemed genuine but he looked like he demanded respect.

“We were a handful back then. Always causing trouble,” Kimba sighed tilting the side of his head toward Raven. “But some things never change.”

“I agree.”

As Glyden spoke everyone focused their attention on him. “Your brother has been very trigger happy of late,” he said.

It was then when Raven realized who Glyden was referring too. Technically, though they were not the same species, Dusk and Kimba were siblings.

Glyden pulled up sleeve the left arm on his uniform revealing a small watch. Pressing a small button a large hologram projection formed up in the air, giving light to the forest darkness.

“We’ve found groups of Empire soldiers advancing from the Desertus and Montanum continents,” Glyden said. “Some Empire forces had even broken through our front-line and made it to the Sabana territories. We’ve eliminated them but Dusk seems interested in capturing Guardian again. And that’s not all,” He went on. “People are disappearing. The Eternalists have become a lot more active in Sabana recently. They must have learned something regarding that event ten years ago.”

“The Bloodstained Festival? I wonder,” Kimba mused.

Raven grimaced. The Bloodstained Festival. It was the name of the horrendous event, in which a rebellious group tried to take down the Empire. But that was in Empire territory. What did it have to do with Guardian?

“Even though he blamed Guardian for those attacks, I’m sure Dusk knows it wasn’t us,” Kimba began. “And I doubt the Eternalists were responsible, but both may have found out about something they were looking for.”

“Such as?”

“A super-weapon.”

Suddenly, an explosion blasted through the left side of the clearing. Huge trees fell down with a crash. An alluring flame erupted from the explosion lighting the night forest.

“What the hell is that?” Raven exclaimed.

From the flame appeared a five clay like floating golem creatures. A fireball of rock and flame was ejected from the mouth of one of the golems closest to the people in the clearing.

“Get down!” Taurus shoved Raven down the ground as the ball of flame narrowly missed him. The fireball exploded in the middle of the clearing.

Smoke flooded the area making it hard to for Raven to look around. He could no longer see Taurus next to him.

“Taurus! Where are you?” Raven yelled. He looked around looked around in the smoke furiously. He could hear yells and more explosions of fire.

What was happening?

Raven could hear Naga shout over the commotion. “We are under attack! Protect this forest with your lives!”

Raven could feel a muscular body bump into him. Startled he turned around quickly prepared to face his opponent. Raven was about the punch the figure until he realized who it was.

“Relax kid, it’s just me,” Kray said.

Raven was about the breath a sigh of relief when he was pushed out the way by Kray. A giant golem fist smashed into the ground between them, right where Raven was standing.

Kray’s body began to morph in the form of a tiger with scarlet fur as he barred his fangs. He unsheathed razor sharp claws and raised his spirit energy, filling the air with a pressure so dense for a moment Raven had trouble moving. Such powerful vapor…

“Find Taurus and get out of here,” Kray growled. “I can handle this,”

Kray ran to engage the rock beast. He moved fast and with agility, dodging raining blows from the golem-like creature. Kray managed to rake is claws against the golem chest leaving three large cuts. But then the golem swung its arm attempting to hit Kray in the stomach.

Before he was touched, Kray had caught Golem’s arm with his forepaws. Then in mid-air, Kray proceeded to lift up and throw the beast at the rockpile in the middle of the clearing, shattering half of the Golem’s body into pieces.

As Kray turned back into his humanoid form, a smaller Golem prepared to launch another flaming ball of rock toward them. Raven sprinted toward the Golem with an even stride.

“Wait!” Kray shouted.

“I can fight too,” he replied.

Raven slid as golem released the flame ball barely dodging the attack. He turned around and rolled out the way to avoid the beast’s arm as it smashed into the ground.

“Here goes nothing…” Raven muttered.

Raven jumped on top of the Golem’s arm and ran up its shoulder. Quickly, he jumped again to prevent himself from being sideswiped by the Golem’s hand on the opposite side. Raven felt his chest fill up with spirit energy. He transferred it to his legs and hit the creature in the face with a knee strike. The Golem tumbled down to the ground landing with a thud.

“Well that was easy,” he said with a smirk. Raven dusted himself off and looked around the battlefield feeling a little good about himself.

“Look out!”

Raven heard a voice but it was too late. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the golem had risen from the ground. It was in an attack stance ready to blindside him with a powerful blow. Raven cursed.

The golem abruptly came to a complete halt. Raven eyes widened as he spotted a long red sword sticking out of the rock monsters chest gleaming from the light of the flames. The one who held the hilt was none other than Naga Lakshmi.

“Raven dear, you have such a cocky smile I could almost fall for you,” Naga said amused. “But please, remember to make sure the enemy is dead before you gloat.”

Raven could do nothing but grin back at her as she joked. He moved out of the way as Naga asked before the golem fell head first into the ground. He took a look at the sword in her left hand. It was blood red, but it wasn’t because of the golems.

Upon closer inspection, Raven realized that the sword wasn’t metal at all, but liquid infused with spiritual energy. He looked closer at her finger noticed a little cut on her otherwise unblemished skin.

Blood manipulation.

“These golems are from the Cadmian family right?” Naga mused. “Why would they attack us?” Naga seemed as if she were in deep thought. “We don’t have a feud with the Cadmian family…” she muttered. Raven had guessed she was thinking about her family, the Sagittaria, in particular. They were both part of the Ten Royal Families after all.

“And this why I said it was stupid for all of us to meet out here, especially since we could just use the Iridescent Mirror from the comfort of our own homes,” Taurus said. Out of thin air, he landed next to Raven and joined them.

“These golems aren’t normal,” he confirmed. “The people wearing the hoods must be controlling them.”

The three viewed Kray, Glyden, and the other serpent-elves fighting off the other golems. The serpent-elves chipped away at the stone enemies alternating between using blade weapons or bows and arrows. Kimba even took on two at once destroying them with his bare fists, but it wasn’t enough. The defeated golems began to regenerate repairing the injuries to their bodies.

“Regeneration… that’s not normal for a golem either,” Naga remarked.

Taurus cursed under his breath. “It’s dark magic, they’re no longer living. We will definitely be here all night now.”

The three of them quickly turned around as they sensed enemy vapor. The rock creature that Naga just slew had gotten up, ready to attack again.

“If we’re here any longer I’ll miss out on my beauty sleep,” Naga said mischievously. She glanced at Taurus with a smile. “Taurus, why don’t we get a little serious?”

Taurus humphed with a grin. “Just don’t feel bad if you can’t keep up,” He said as they both started raised their vapor levels.
Then, they immediately stopped and looked up in the air. Their eyes widened.

Raven’s head shot up to see what they were staring at. He saw something that he could not put into words. A transparent spirit with the figure of a woman and deer-like antlers floated in the middle of the air looking below at the burning smoke filled clearing. Everyone, even the golems stopped fighting and watched.

The hooded Eternalists viewed it as their cue to make their escape.

Nature began to sing a song, not with words but a pleasant sounding cry. Clouds began to cover the sky. Thunder bellowed throughout the forest, and rain started to poor. The flames of battle dissipated. The spirit then raised her right hand and sang a different song. Raven looked on baffled as the golems physical forms broke apart into scraps of light. The energy returned to the spirit’s hand in the form a small glowing ball.

“What is made from dust returns to dust,” she whispered.

The ball of light split into eight directions traveling across unknown lands afar. Nature slowly descended and landed on forest surface. Her spirit energy could be felt through the air for miles, but it wasn’t dense hard pressure like most strong Avalonians. It was like a present aroma that made one feel as if it had lifted their feet from off the ground and sent them to the stars.

For a moment everyone was quiet. Kimba was the first to speak.

“If you had let me know of this meeting earlier teacher, I would have come bearing gifts,” he said.

Teacher?

“I did not think tonight would be so eventful,” Kimba continued.

Nature smiled. “You cannot give me what I already have,” she said. She glanced at everyone around the clearing.

Naga stepped forward and bowed. “Praise be your name goddess,” The serpent-elves behind her copied in unison. Nature raised a hand and shook her head slowly. “Then call me by my name,” she said. “Naga, you know I have always preferred that.”

“Yes Nature, My apologies,” Naga said quickly. If she was embarrassed she hid it well. Taurus sneered but did not speak.

Glyden was the next to step forward. “Welcome back to the world, Nature. What brings you to the material realm?” He continued. “You haven’t been seen physically for the last twelve months, you must have good reason to call us here.”

“Even as a young boy, You were always sharp Glyden,” Nature said. “You three have grown well,” Nature gazed at the moons in the night sky. She must have dissipated the clouds.
“Seven thousand years ago you were but small cubs, but now you all are competent leaders of your people,” she mentioned with an affectionate tone in her voice.

“A lot has happened since you and the other Elders refused to intervene in Avalonian affairs,” Kimba said. “Dusk has taken power and threatens everyone, even those you’ve birthed across the stars.”

“I know,” Nature said solemnly. “It has been too long without true peace. It is time I help return to balance to this place.”

“There has been a disturbance in the vapor across the realms. I am beginning the melding ritual for this millennium earlier because of this.” Nature said. She paused for a moment before speaking again.

“Dusk is looking for the Fallen Star,” She continued. “He had almost found it but I have kept it from him.”

There was a collective gasp from the group listeners. Raven was not surprised. Even he had heard of the Fallen Star in children tales and mythology books. The Fallen Star was the strongest out of twelve artifacts created by the Elder Gods to moderate the spiritual energy of the world. It was also said to be able to grant any wish of the user. For the most part, many Avalonians did not believe it actually existed. Raven had no doubt in his mind that it was real now.

Nature began to speak again. “I have left it with you in Kingdom City. Please do not use it unless I give you permission.” Nature’s feet slowly lifted up as she started to float in the air.

Everyone in the clearing tensed up at that revelation. Raven was particularly interested in the reactions of Naga, Taurus, Glyden, and Kimba. They tried to play it off but it seemed to Raven that they all felt uncomfortable with sharing something so powerful.

Maybe the Kimba and the Grand Masters were actually a little wary of one another.

However, no one had dared to question Nature about it. Trusting the four of them with something as powerful as the Fallen Star meant that she was serious and that giving it to them was the best choice.

“I trust you to guard it well,” Nature said. It seemed as if she could feel the tension extruded between the four leaders.

“It was good to talk with you all again,” Nature said. She gave Raven a penetrating look as if she were evaluating him. Raven straightened up but remained quiet. As she started to fade away Taurus spoke up.

“When will we see you again?” He asked.

“Soon,” she replied simply. “But Taurus, know this… I am always with you.”

oOo

Raven silently hid in the bushes of the undergrowth. He was careful to not be seen by Kray or the serpent-elves as Kimba and the Grand Masters had told them to leave the area. The four of them were sitting down crossed legged next to small fireplace speaking about something in secret, and Raven wanted to know what it was about.

“…there has to be a better reason than that, this is Sagittaria territory,” Naga said tensely.

“What are you getting at Naga?” Taurus asked exasperatedly.

“There is a spy in Guardian. How else would Eternalists know we were meeting here?”

“How do you know that it wasn’t a serpent-elf?” Taurus asked.

“We wouldn’t compromise our own home,” She went on. “If one of my own betrayed us, believe me, I would know.”

Taurus glanced at Glyden and Kimba. “It’s possible someone saw us traveling through Artisans and tipped the Eternalists off.”

“Audrey Genia wouldn’t be happy to know that there are terrorist supporters in her own country,” Naga said after a sigh. She rubbed her head softly with one hand. “If she were to learn of this attack she would probably accuse us of putting the Artisans homeland in danger.”

Glyden blew a puff smoke from his newest cigarette. “So hypothetically, if there were a traitor or Eternalist cells in the Guardian or Artisans territories what would we do about it?”

“Same as always,” Kimba responded. “Take caution, protect our borders and tell your secrets to only those you trust.”

Kimba stood up and looked straight into the center of the vibrant flame. “Soon the Galactic Federation will arrive to aid us and we have Nature our side. No matter what the threat is against us we will be ready.”

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Prologue II

Previous Next

Ashley Hawke lounged in the back of her seat as she waited for the history teacher to finish speaking. Her mind in a daze, she almost fell asleep.

That blissful state soon ended as she was disturbed by the sound of the class packing their books. Ashley turned to her left and looked up at the clock under the ceiling. Only a few minutes were left in class. Soon they would be free from the boring prison known as school.

Ashley quickly packed her books even as the teacher complained about students packing up early. She didn’t care really; Mr. Tate never had the backbone to enforce his rules.

Only two more minutes left in class. Ashley could hear the excited whispers of her fellow classmates as they began to talk about what they had planned for the weekend. The group of girls next to her talked quietly, smiling and making glances toward her.

Ashley rolled her eyes in annoyance. The girls, six in all, were part of a popular clique of underclassmen. One that Ashley herself was the leader of. They were her so-called “friends” and were probably going to bug her about her weekend plans.

As the bell rang and class was dismissed, Ashley retrieved her book bag from the floor next to her desk. As Ashley stood up and readied herself to leave, she was approached by two of her friends, smiling at her.

“Ashley! Wait up!” Lorie said. The small blonde girl positioned herself between Ashley and the door. “We’re going out with the boys, remember?”

Ashley narrowed her eyes but had a hint of a smile on her face. “Ah. Yeah. To the movies right?” Everyone was always trying to drag her around. No doubt Timothy would be there. He was known as a good-looking boy in her grade who made no intention of hiding his crush on her. Ashley shook her head a little. She liked having people that desired to be around her, but if they were annoying she would get irritated.

It was only natural, though, that everyone would want to bask in the presence of a smart and beautiful girl like herself. But she was much more than that. Much more.

She was a sophomore at Franklin High School, yet in some ways it felt like she ran the place. Ashley was a starter on the school volleyball and soccer team. The upperclassmen boys adored her while the girls secretly hated her. She was one of the most popular girls in school and almost always had the favor of teachers. It was Ashley’s very being that drew others to her, and she knew it. It could be considered a blessing and a curse.

That is what it means to be a god.

Ashley walked outside of the class with her friends Lorie and Tonya. Heading toward her locker she could see the rest of her clique congregated around it. The girls were busy flirting with a group of boys nearby. Ashley could see Timothy with them. She caught him glancing at her with a smile.

“Hmph!” Ashley huffed, grinning. Tonya took her smile as a reason to voice her opinion.

“He’s pretty hot. And he likes you. I think he’s gonna ask you out,” Tonya said.

“Not interested.”

“What?”

Tonya turned around and attempted to question Ashley about why she wouldn’t want a date with the perfect looking boy. Ashley waved her off. As Ashley put her books inside her locker compartment, she was swarmed with attention from the students around her area. She conversed with them a little until she found herself face to face with Timothy.

Ashley had to look up to see the tall boy’s face. Tim’s grin became wider as she did.

“Hey,” he said. “We’re going to the movies tonight, coming with?”

There was a little tension in the air between them as he dropped those words. He was attractive. Ashley observed him for a moment unfazed. She looked over his well-kept brown hair and then looked straight in his piercing gray eyes.

“I’ll be there,” she said.

“I’ll pick you up,” Timothy replied.

She wasn’t fond of the idea of being in a car with Tim, but she agreed to it anyway. Maybe she would get some amusement out of rejecting him tonight. He asked if she needed a ride home as well but she said no. Heading toward the school entrance she made her way toward the buses taking students home with her friends.

Before making it to the door she almost found herself running into someone. It was another student. He apologized, embarrassed after almost crashing into her. Ashley frowned; how could someone be so absent-minded? The curly haired boy glanced away as she viewed his face. He seemed nervous. Without even saying anything she continued walking on with the rest of her group. After a few steps, she turned her head back to look at the brown-skinned boy, who was rushing the opposite direction to his locker. He must have forgotten something.

“So that’s my master, huh?” She said quietly before turning back around.

oOo

Shaun Thompson stood in front of Franklin High School looking up at the name plastered on top of the three-story building. So this is where he would be teaching from now on, he thought. He began to walk up the wide flight of steps toward the school entrance with his briefcase in hand. As he opened the doors his shaggy black hair blew forward as a current of cold air from outside rushed into the school.

As he entered the school building, he wondered what being a teacher at this school would be like. It wouldn’t be his first time teaching; he started as a substitute and teacher’s assistant for many years. However, this would be the first time he had a class all to himself.

On top of that, the school was huge. There were a couple thousand students. Most were decent enough but in his opinion, there were a couple of bad apples.

Shaun remembered yesterday when he was putting most of his items and teaching material the in his classroom. He could remember a student, a young girl getting harassed by a group of other girls. It was close by his classroom but Shaun opted to stay out of it. He wasn’t officially known as a teacher at the time and he had no problem with avoiding the issues of some teenage brats.

Shaun was jolted out of his thoughts as he could hear the sound of clacking heels headed toward him. He stood up straight to face the brunette haired woman. She walked until she was a few feet in front of him.

The woman gave him a warm smile and put out her hand.

“You must be the new physics teacher!” She said. “I’m Selena Frazzle.”

Shaun smiled slightly shaking her hand. “Hi, I’m Shaun Thompson.”

“Oh! So you’re the young physics genius everyone was talking about,” Ms. Frazzle said. “I’ve heard a lot about you from Mr.Hardy. How old are you?”

“Twenty-two ma’am,” He replied.

“Wow, so you just graduated college?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Just call me Selena.”

Ms. Frazzle’s sparkling eyes were boring into Shaun almost as if they could see through him. Ms. Frazzle continued to ask questions. She then talked about the various teachers and departments of the school.

“Well it was nice meeting you,” Ms. Frazzle finished.

“Likewise,” Mr.Thompson said while looking around the hallway for the principal’s office.

“Looking for principal’s office?” Ms. Frazzle asked. “I can take you there if you’d like.”

Shaun agreed and walked with her through the expansive hallway. Ms. Frazzle began to talk absentmindedly about her favorite students and why she loved teaching English. Shaun observed her quietly.

Something about her was bugging him. Ms. Frazzle was not his type, but even he could see that she was a beautiful woman. As his eyes traced over her form he noticed she was probably in her late twenties.

None of that was really important, though. There was something else he could sense from her. A feeling of a certain energy but he couldn’t quite place it. Unhuman? He wasn’t able to confirm his suspicions, however.

A loud crash of was heard from around the hall stopping their conversation immediately.

“What was that?” Shaun asked.

“I have no idea,” Ms. Frazzle replied.

She started to move faster, heading toward the disturbance.

“It was one of the lockers. Come on, it sounded like a student fell.”

Shaun sighed to himself and let Selena lead the way. Turning the corner he saw Ms. Frazzle frozen in place looking at the scene before her. A group of six girls and their blonde leader were bullying the same young girl he saw from before. It seemed as if they were trying to take books from her backpack. Shaun resisted the urge to shake his head. He really didn’t want to get involved, at least not this soon.

“What are you doing!?” Ms. Frazzle asked.

The girls remained silent, They were caught red-handed. Shaun was curious to see what excuses they would have. The blonde girl, the leader of the posse began to stalk off.

Ms. Frazzle nearly grabbed her but stopped as the blonde girl turned around to look at her.

“You’re not going anywhere, young lady, you have explaining to do along with your friends. Why were you hurting that girl?”

“Me?” Ashley scowled. “I had nothing do with this. I wasn’t even next to her like them.”

Ashley pointed her index finger at the other girls. “They mess with Katherine here to please me since she doesn’t talk with us anymore. But I can care less. It’s not like I tell them to do it.”

“Hey!” Nicole said.

“Ashley!?” Lorie exclaimed.

The girls moaned in protest as Ashley threw them under the bus. She ignored them.

“No. You’re just here to encourage your little entourage, is that it?” Ms. Frazzle said.

“If you have a problem give me a write-up slip and send me the Principal. I should take full responsibility for those that are mine, no?”

Ashley stalked off without saying another word.

Shaun glanced at Ms. Frazzle with the side of his eyes. She frowned, her face flushing with anger, and yet it seemed as if she had let Ashley walk away. Was that fear he saw in Ms. Frazzle’s expression? Shaun turned his face to look back at where the blonde girl had been.

Ashley had looked familiar… Like a certain being from that place…

After a moment Shaun and Ms. Frazzle resumed walking through the hallway, both of them quiet.

They had finally reached the principal’s office. As they entered the room they were greeted by Principal Hardy, who was just getting off the phone.

“Ah, thank you Ms. Frazzle. I see you’ve acquainted yourself with Mr.Thompson. That’s good.” The Principal said. He turned to face Shaun. “And how are you finding everything? Ready for Monday?”

“Yes Sir,” Shaun replied.

Ms. Frazzle quietly excused herself as he continued his conversation with Mr.Hardy. Shaun glanced at Ms. Frazzle as she left, her eyes catching his own. She simply smiled at him as she left the room.

oOo

Selena Frazzle looked across the long stairway window viewing the campus grounds with a smile. She was watching the new physics teacher, Mr. Thompson, make his way back to parking lot. He must have been done unpacking for the evening. They had just come from a meeting with the school principal after they witnessed the event earlier.

Selena didn’t bring up the situation with Ashley to Principal Hardy, knowing that it would cause more problems than it was worth. However, she made sure to threaten the other bullies with suspension if they continued to harass that girl. She noted that Shaun also refrained telling the Mr. Hardy about what he witnessed.

Selena really had no reason to stay at school. She was unnecessarily waiting for an acquaintance, but she didn’t mind.Selena turned her head to the side as she was approached by her coworker.

“What are you doing standing here?” Mrs. Armstrong asked.

Selena smiled raising her hands up in defense. “Nothing really.”

Mrs. Armstrong looked over her shoulder out the window. She had seen who Selena was looking at.

“Right. So what do you think of him?”

“He seems pretty cute,” Selena said. She couldn’t hide anything from Mrs. Armstrong, but of course she never really cared to. “I don’t think he’s my type, though.”

“You seemed content staring at him for an hour.”

“Please, it wasn’t an hour, ” Selena said. She tilted her head, thinking. “Maybe I should try to seduce him?”

“Really, shitting where you eat?”

“Nah, only kidding,” Selena said with a laugh. “Speaking of which, aren’t you treating me out to dinner?”

“If you’re paying.”

“Oh come on.”

Selena walked down the stairs while finalizing her dinner plans with Mrs. Armstrong. She quickly took a glance at the school parking lot. Mr. Thompson’s car was finally gone. Selena smiled again to herself.

It looks like things are starting to get interesting.

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Prologue I

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Seven full moons shone brilliantly in the clear night sky. A slight breeze traveled across the forest causing the leaves to rustle in the wind. Laying on a branch, a transparent spirit with the figure of a woman with deer-like antlers sprouting from her head gazed at the moons.

“It’s a beautiful night,” Nature whispered to herself. “Don’t you think?”

She glanced at the moons expectantly with her glowing white eyes. Looking down toward the forest floor Nature sighed. This peace will end soon, she thought grimly.

The forest was especially quiet. Normally she preferred a lively forest, hearing the birds sing their beautiful songs, to feel the energy and emotions of the creatures around her. Nature could feel the growth of the trees, grass, shrubs, and bushes.

The spirit wanted to relax and connect more to the forest, but now wasn’t the time. Raising her spirit energy, Nature warned the animals nearby to stay hidden in nightly shadows or to flee from the area.

Darkness is coming…

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