Secrets 2.2

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Werewolves Tell No Tales

I hesitated, my mind going blank. “You want to speak with me?” I repeated, the quiet words tumbling out of my mouth, like the electrical impulses that controlled my speech were slow to reach my brain. I was like a device that had short-circuited. I wasn’t sure if she heard me. “Why?”

Shekhinah paused and regarded me for a second before exhaling. “I assumed that Kazuya would be here recovering after your sister took him from me two nights before. But, I cannot sense him,” Shekhinah glanced around the room, her eyes shifting from me to the entrance of our basement. Could she tell that Kazuya stayed there for the past two days? “Do you know where he is?”

I didn’t answer her right away; I was still feeling shell-shocked by the fact that she appeared in our house without any warning. With a tense grip, took hold of the knob to the door I had entered the house with and used it to help pull myself up from the floor. I stood up slowly and leaned against the door while attempting to keep balance. If I let go, now, I’d knew I’d fall over from the pressure. I looked Shekhinah in her golden eyes, they seemed cloudy. Lacking the fire and fierceness that they had given off the first time I met her.

I closed my eyes to distance myself. Shekhinah had asked if I knew where Kazuya was but she wasn’t forceful with her inquiry or demanding that I tell her his location. With a bit of effort, I pushed the thought of my impending death from Shekhinah’s hand out of my mind. Maybe Shekhinah wouldn’t hurt me. She seemed content to ask questions for now.

I opened my eyes and Shekhinah came back into view.  Her expression was unreadable, her lips thin. She hadn’t moved. She was patient, waiting for me to speak.

I swallowed as I found my voice. “I don’t know where he is,” I paused, glancing down and away from Shekhinah gaze as she remained still—her facial expression solid like stone. “He left last night without telling us anything. We didn’t even know he was gone until today.”

Shekhinah made a sound of clear annoyance. “Damn him,” she said, mostly to herself as she looked away.  Shekhinah sighed as she turned her head the direction of the living room window, taking her attention off of me. She was glancing out at the backyard, lost in contemplation. Shekhinah looked back at me, her eyes focused somewhat—as if she were searching my face for something. “Your sister isn’t with you,” she said, speaking like she was stating a simple fact.

I couldn’t look up to face her. It took every ounce of my resolve to ignore the warning blaring through my head, to keep from running out the garage door and getting the hell away from here. Breath. Calm down. Shekhinah didn’t do anything to me yet. She hadn’t moved at all since we had started talking. I had to calm down and stop freaking out. I had to think. If I didn’t keep myself together mentally, I’d collapse.

“S-she’s not here right now. She stayed after school.”

“I see.”

“Is… Kazuya the only reason you’re here?” I asked, my lips moving against my better judgment. “Why do you want to see him?”

“I need to speak to him.”

“So you can kill him and take revenge?” I asked. “For your students?”

Shekhinah glared at me. “That’s none of your concern.”

I was silent. My hand tightened on the doorknob as I stood my ground. “It’s been my concern ever since you and Kazuya pulled us into your battle that night. I almost died. If it wasn’t for Kazuya I wouldn’t be here right now. He saved my life.”

Shekhinah opened her mouth as if she were going to refute me, but after a moment she clamped it shut.

“He claimed you met us before,” I continued. “It was back when we were young, wasn’t it?” I rubbed my temple with a few fingers while closing my eyes in a painful grimace, visions of the past assaulting my mind. Pulsing through the sides of my skull, like a migraine. Images of Shekhinah with us, Mom, Dad, and Kazuya in that city of gold.  “I’ve been having these weird dreams and visions lately. In them, I see my dad as an Arcadian. Mom a Valterian. And I see you too, happy with Kazuya.”

Shekhinah gritted her teeth, her fists tightening as her body stiffened. “Then that vile fox has addled your mind, for you see nothing but lies!” she snapped. “He cannot be trusted. That treacherous fox does nothing but steal, kill, and cause destruction in his wake. He killed the ones important to me, without a second thought!”

I raised my hands in fear as she stepped closer to me, silently pleading for her to stop and calm down. “Look! I get it. I understand—no—I don’t. I-I can’t possibly understand what you’re going through. Losing the most important people to you,” Memories about my visions, the visions of a younger Tiffany and the seven other children I was close to in dragon king’s castle popped into my mind, piercing my brain—going straight through my skull and shocking me like a bolt of electricity. I winced, wavering for a moment. “I… I don’t think I could bear something like that.”

Shekhinah offered no response.

“But,” I said, after swallowing and catching my breath. “If Kazuya was wrong, If you truly hate him so much, why didn’t didn’t you kill him and get rid of us back then? You haven’t even denied what he said yet. That you had come in contact with us before.”

Shekhinah stared at me.

“You told us that killing him wouldn’t bring your subordinates back,” I tensed as I saw Shekhinah become furious, the aura of energy surrounding her rising like a torrent of water in the rapids. “Did you really mean that?”

Shekhinah hesitated, the waves of her energy and anger weakening.

“Shekhinah,” I whispered. “Who are you, really?”

We were both startled by the sound of the garage door opening from the outside. Metal hinges twisted and moved along worn metal rollers. The sounds from the outside door lasted a few seconds before it stopped. I could hear my mother drive her car inside. My parents were back. Shekhinah must’ve known something was up too, with the way she looked at the door I was standing near.

Shekhinah inspected me. “If we are fated to meet again,” she declared, “I will tell you everything.”

Shekhinah gave me a small smile as the aura surrounding her golden armor brightened.  I closed my eyes from the glare. I opened them and peered at the place Shekhinah was standing just seconds before. She had vanished.

I was baffled; my body was stiff, still standing in the same place when my dad opened the door and came into the house while mom followed suit.

“Hi,” I said, moving out of the way while my parents entered through the door together.

‘Hi,” my mom said beaming at me like I was a joy to see.

“Hey, Mercy. How are you?” my dad asked.

“Fine.”

“Anything interesting go on at school today?”

Well, not in school.

“Not really,” I said.

For a millisecond I considered whether I should ask Mom and Dad about my visions. To ask if they were gods. I decided against it. I didn’t want to talk to them about what happened that Friday night. Nor did I want to explain Kazuya’s or Shekhinah’s visit to our house. I didn’t want to put that all on the table.

“Where is your sister?” my mom asked.

My eyelids shut tight as I anticipated my parent’s outrage. “She’s still at school. She stayed with Terra because he was given detention.”

Dad’s lips thinned, displeased, and Mom brow furrowed. She folded her arms, furious.

“What are we going to do with that girl?” Mom growled, expressing herself to my dad.

Dad put his briefcase down next to the kitchen table. He started to take off his coat. “We’ll discuss that when she comes home,” Dad looked at me. “Did you have anything to do with her staying?”

“No,” I shook my head. “She chose to stay there. I warned her.”

Dad examined me for a moment but I didn’t offer anything else. He grabbed his coat from the chair he had placed it on and walked to the hallway closet. Mom did the same.

“What do you want for dinner, Mercy?” Mom asked in a calmer voice, her annoyance at Tiffany’s disobedience gone. She glanced at me as she hung up her coat. “Steak and pasta or chicken and rice?”

“We haven’t had rice in a while,” I said.

“Is that what you want?”

“Yeah, chicken and rice is good.”

“I bought asparagus Saturday.”

Mmm. One of the only vegetables I actually liked eating. “Awesome, do you need me to make anything?”

I recalled my mom talking about making a cornbread dish last weekend. I could do that for her.

“No. It’s fine.” my mother said. “Don’t you have homework to do?”

“It wouldn’t take that long.”

“Homework first,” she ordered.

I stopped myself from rolling my eyes in protest but my lips lifted around the edges. “Fine.”

My parents eventually made their way upstairs to take off their work clothes and slip into something more relaxing. I took a moment to sit on the living room couch to decompress a bit. I glanced at the remote that was resting on the small table next to me. I was still banned from watching TV.  I pulled my cell phone out of my backpack and began to check it for new text messages. It wouldn’t hurt to check now. Dad would ask for my phone back soon, considering how taking our phones away was a part of our punishment.

Most of the new texts I had were from friends or teammates. Tiffany hadn’t sent anything. The house door that led to the garage opened with a soft creak, causing me to perk up. Tiffany sneaked inside the house without a sound, she took her time to close the door. After she locked it, she tiptoed through the kitchen—her steps light. She moved closer to me, her shoulders taut with tension as she observed the kitchen and living room with care, attempting to avoid detection. Tiffany nearly jumped out of her skin as she found me sprawled out all over the couch like a homeless moocher. I surprised her. Tiffany actively relaxed as she realized it was me. She exhaled in relief.

“Hey,” she said.

“Heya, partner.”

Tiffany did her usual slight tilt of the head while giving me her ‘are you serious’ look, her hands placed on her hips. I tried my best to feign a look of innocence. Tiffany sniffed before resuming a normal and relaxed posture.

“Did you cover for me?” Tiffany asked.

“Nope.”

“Huh?”

“I told them the truth.”

“What?” Tiffany’s mouth dropped open as if she wondered how I could have said such thing. Apparently, I had betrayed her trust. “Why the hell would you do that?”

I shrugged. “What else was I supposed to do?”

“Uh—not tell them the truth? You could have said I was in my room or something.”

“Yeah, but you weren’t and I had no idea when you’d be home. They would have noticed eventually. If you’d come home a few seconds later, Dad would be sitting here watching TV and Mom would be in the kitchen. I told you it would be bad news if they got home early. You said you could handle it.”

“Tiffany,” Mom called from upstairs before my sister could respond. “Mercy, is your sister home? Tell her to come upstairs.”

Tiffany grimaced. I empathized with my sister, my stomach coiling into a knot of anxiety, knowing that she would get a stern talking-to. We couldn’t fool Mom. Whenever we found ourselves in the act of doing something we knew when shouldn’t be doing, our mom’s sense of hearing always seemed uncanny.

“Pray for me,” Tiffany said quietly, as she took a seat on my lap—causing me to let out a choked grunt of surprise. She buried her head into my shoulder. My arms traveled around her back, holding her in a light embrace so she wouldn’t fall off of me.  She looked up at me, then she tilted her head back to view my face better. “On second thought,” she said, with her hands touching the back of the couch—my head in between the middle of her reaching arms, “Don’t do that. I can’t even trust you to cover for me right. If you pray to those gods you’ve been seeing in those dreams of yours, I’d probably die faster.”

My eyes narrowed as I gave her a sardonic smile. “Do you prefer that or prefer having Mom and Dad kill you? Trying to merge yourself with me isn’t going to work,” I snarked, pondering whether I should push Tiffany off my lap.

“Tiffany!” Mother called, louder.

Tiffany cursed and rolled her eyes; she let go of me. As she stood up, I spoke.

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be. I should have been back earlier.”

I glanced toward some of the kitchen windows. “Yeah. But something came up. Before the ‘rents came back.”

“What happened?”

I looked back at Tiffany who seemed intent on waiting for me to explain. Doing that would take a while and keeping her here would only make our mom angrier. Making things worse for both of us.

“Go talk to Mom. I’ll tell you later.”

Tiffany frowned but she didn’t complain. She turned away from me and made her way upstairs to our parent’s room to face the music. It sucked that she had to get yelled at, but at least she wasn’t grounded for another week. Missing two weeks of practice may have gotten her kicked off the soccer team. After dinner, I told her about Shekhinah’s abrupt appearance in our house. Tiffany was as freaked out about it as I was, but she also was averse to telling our mom and dad.  Shekhinah was a god who could level our house with the wave of a hand and she could appear in the middle of home whenever she felt like it. I wasn’t so sure about keeping that fact a secret from our parents. Nevertheless, the rest of our night was peaceful enough.

oOo

The next day at school was pretty normal. As normal as you could get at Franklin High, at least. Homeroom had just finished and I was the second to last person to leave class as I was late in packing up my books. Nathan Blackwood approached me, his visage careful and patient. We’d often walk to second-period together since we were in the same class. He was a good friend. Someone I enjoyed talking too when I had the chance.

Terra, who was unironically Nathan’s best friend, had left homeroom before us for some reason. Normally he would walk with us to Algebra II even though his second class was on the opposite side of the building. Terra could care less if he was late his Spanish class. I was pretty sure he liked it but his Spanish teacher, Ms. Lopez, had a soft spot for him—something that he was sure to take advantage of. I wondered why he didn’t walk with us today. Maybe Ms. Lopez actually threatened him with detention for once.

“Finished your Algebra II homework?” Nathan asked.

I gave him a warm smile before standing up, my backpack in hand. “Mm-hmm. Finally! Man, he gives way to much homework. What’s the point of learning all this stuff? Functions? Graphing linear equations? We’re not even gonna use this crap real life.”

“Just wait until we get into pre-cal.”

I leaned my head back in aggravation, over-exaggerating the motion a little. “Oh my gosh, don’t even talk to me about that. I don’t know if I’m gonna survive this.”

Nathan smirked. “Mr. Nelson does give a lot of homework.”

“Too much. And I still have to start working on that essay Ms. Frazzle gave us.”

Nathan and I continued to talk as we exited the classroom. We said goodbye to Ms. Frazzle, our English and homeroom teacher, who was standing by the door the way out. She was preoccupied with observing people as they passed through the hallway, making sure students didn’t violate the dress code, no doubt. Or maybe she was checking that her students came to class on time.  As we left Ms. Frazzle’s class, some of her second-period students trickled into the English classroom. It would be full within ten minutes or so.

“So…” Nathan said as we traversed through the crowded halls. “Have you seen Katherine around? I don’t think she was in first-period today.”

I inhaled deeply, stifling a sigh. “No, I don’t think she was.”

“Hmm. I thought I saw her earlier. Isn’t your locker close to her’s?”

A familiar undercurrent of irritation started to course through my veins, entering the center of my body. It made me feel like I was burning from the inside out. How long would he continue to bring up Katherine in our conversations? If Nathan cared about Katherine so much he could go find her by himself. He didn’t need me for that.

“I don’t really talk to her anymore. You know that.”

“Yeah, I know that,” Nathan said, his gaze cautious. “I don’t know why, though.”

“I just don’t. Don’t be annoying. You’re always so nosy.”

“My bad. I wanted to see her so I could find out if she’s available for tutoring today.”

I glanced at Nathan with renewed interest. “She’s a part of the tutoring center?”

“Nah. Way too skittish for that. You know how she is. Katherine isn’t a people person.”

I huffed. “Yeah,” I paused before facing Nathan’s direction. “I’m surprised she’s helping you.”

Nathan chuckled. “Yup, me too. I didn’t expect her to agree but I knew she was smart so I was like fuck it, what’s the harm in asking? It’s cool. I think she could use someone to talk to considering everything that’s been happening to her lately.” Nathan turned to me so he could analyze my reaction to his words.

That nasty feeling in my stomach returned and I looked away. “What class is she helping you with?”

“Physics.”

“Ugh. That sounds rough,” I said. “Wait. Do you have the new physics teacher?”

“Mr. Thompson? Yeah. He’s cool.”

“I heard he was pretty attractive,” I murmured to myself, causing Nathan to shake his head. “How’s that working out for you?”

“Honestly, I’m in way over my head. Without Katherine, I wouldn’t be able to survive in that class. I’d die. Like literally die. That’s how hard that shit is. She’s saving my life right now. ”

“Why did you take such a hard requirement?”

“Eh,” Nathan shrugged. “Wanted to do something I haven’t learned about before. Oh, that reminds me. I also wanted to invite Katherine to the AMCVG after school.”

“Ah, that?” I asked. The anime, manga, comic book, video game, and movie club. A small student-created organization that Nathan was a proud member of. I had learned from Nathan that the AMCVG would at least meet once a week to play games, watch anime, or discuss other various hobbies for us nerdy folk. It seemed intriguing enough. I never really had the time to join, being a part of the soccer team and all.

“Yes, that,” Nathan said giving me a smirk. “Do you actually wanna join now that you have been banished from fields of elite foot swinging warriors?”

I looked at Nathan like he had grown a second head. “No. Don’t do that. Please don’t. Christ, you’re such a dork.”

“Don’t hate, baby-girl,” he said, not caring in about my judgment in the least. “You know I’m irresistible.”

“Yeah—okay, super-fly,” I said while tapping him on the shoulder, feigning pity. Though he would sometimes act dorky, Nathan was always amusing when he attempted to make me laugh. “You know I can’t stay after school. My parents banned me and Tiff from all extracurriculars this week. Didn’t Terra tell you?”

“Yup,” Nathan said, not missing a beat. “It’s a real shame. You could have been one of us, you know. With us nerds, your true people.”

I snorted at that.

“You know that we are your true calling,” Nathan said. “When you’re done abusing people’s balls with your feet, realize that we will always welcome you with open arms. Or open legs if you prefer.”

I glared at him. It wasn’t a serious glare, but it wasn’t a light one either.

Nathan laughed. “Alright, I’ll stop.”

I sighed. “Thank you.”

“It really sucks though, you’d love it,” Nathan said. “Isn’t that why you’re taking Japanese—to read all that untranslated manga you look at?”

I hummed while thinking about the oral presentation I had to give in my Japanese II class. “I guess that was the original reason.”

Our talking died down. We walked in comfortable silence. Normally, having dead spaces in conversation with a boy I wasn’t super close to would make me anxious, but I felt relaxed around Nathan. He was cool like that. I waved in greeting to a couple of other classmates that walked by. We would arrive at our second class soon.

“You should talk to Katherine,” Nathan said at once. “You should see how she looks at you sometimes in English.”

Like I hadn’t noticed?

“Look. I’m not her friend. I don’t talk to her. Stop bringing it up.”

“What are you even worried about?” Nathan countered. “None of the other girls that hang around Ashley are in our English class.”

“Diana is,” I said, “but it’s not like she would tell on me.”

“Ms. Frazzle’s class is like a safe haven,” Nathan said.

“True. But even if everyone was in our English class, Ms. Frazzle wouldn’t let them get away with bullying Katherine.”

“Mm-hmm,” Nathan said. “So what’s the problem? Why don’t you want to talk to Katherine? I thought she was your best friend.”

“Best friend? That’s kinda stretching it.”

“To her you were.”

I closed my eyes with a frown. “Of course, I was,” I must have been the only girl she talked to. I looked away from Nathan’s brown eyes, feeling uneasy about his forcefulness. “I feel a little guilty about it.”

“About what? You don’t pick on her.”

“That’s not it. I cut her off so I wouldn’t have any problems with the rest of the girls,” I bit my lip. “I can’t face her now.”

“Honestly, I don’t think Ashley really cares if you talk to her or not. I’m sure Katherine would understand why you stopped talking to her if you explained yourself, how bad you feel about hurting her.”

“Hmm, yeah,” I said, giving Nathan a casual response. “But Ashley isn’t the person I’m worried about.”

“No. You’re worried about Rika.”

I shrugged, not saying anything else. Rika could be hard to deal with but I didn’t feel like talking to Nathan about her right now.

After a few more steps, we entered our large Algebra II classroom. Nathan and I talked a little bit more before taking our assigned seats. The classroom filled up within a few minutes; the class quieted down as Mr. Nelson walked to the board and asked for the previous night’s homework. I pulled out a binder from my bag and retrieved the homework assignment I had put the finishing touches on in homeroom before our teacher began his lesson. I also took out a spiral notebook and two mechanical pencils, readying myself for an extensive hour of notetaking. After thirty minutes or so of mindless copying from the board, I excused myself from class so I could go use the restroom. Only a few more minutes before lunch, but I was getting tired of working on math and I didn’t feel like holding it in anymore.

I walked to the restroom at the end of the hallway but before I made it halfway there, something caught my eye. I saw Terra on the stairway adjacent to the restroom, talking to a hooded figure—the person was wearing a dark full-body cloak. Huh. That was different. Noticing my approach, Terra nodded at his hooded acquaintance before leaving the step he was perched upon and turning the corner. The hooded figure went after him.

Hmm.

Instead of using the restroom I followed them. I wasn’t sure why Terra urged the hooded figure to follow him after he noticed me. Suspicious. Did he not think I’d pursue him? I made my way around the corner. I blinked. They were gone. The wide corridor was empty like they weren’t even there. Whatever Terra was up to, he didn’t want me knowing about it.

Well, I was going to find out about it now. I spent some time ambling around the empty corridors, looking any hint of Terra or the cloaked person he was talking to. I hoped that wouldn’t come across any teachers. They’d probably want to know why I was strolling around the school like I had nothing better to do instead of being in class.

Where could they have gone? I considered the some of the places around the school Terra liked to go when he wanted to hang out with people in secret. Ah. The rooftop. Students were forbidden being on the school roof but that wouldn’t stop Terra from bringing people up there when he felt like it. I remembered how Tiffany and I had chilled with him there toward the end of last year when most teachers started to become lax with attendance. When school was almost over and there was nothing to do in class. I was pretty sure Terra and Tiffany had used that place to mess around more times than that though. Terra was notorious for skipping classes he didn’t like and he’d sometimes he would bring Tiffany with him when he did.

I was moving fast, so it didn’t take me long to reach the third floor. I looked both ways in next hallway to make sure the coast was clear before making a quick stride to the final staircase. I was careful as I climbed the steps, feeling a bit nervous. If Terra had gone to the roof to get away from me, I wonder how he would react once he found out that I followed him. I opened the door at the end of the staircase with a gentle twist, the golden doorknob making the sound of a sharp click. A slight squeak caressed my ears as I pulled, opening the door wide. I paused for a moment as I looked at the emptiness of the school roof. This was just the front of the roof, what you could see from the doorway entrance; I needed to check the back area as well.

I trod the side of the roof entrance with care, sticking to the wall before glancing around the edge to view the other side of the rooftop. There they were—Terra and the mysterious hooded figure, who was standing right in front of him. There was a substantial height difference between the two of them. The hooded figure was huge. Much taller than Terra. Had to be over six feet.

Terra moved, snapping his head around to look my direction. I was fortunate; I was able to hide behind the wall before he saw me. I waited before resuming my previous position at the edge of doorway area. I peeked around the corner of the wall as the hooded figure started to talk.

“It’s been a while,” The hooded man said. His voice sounded gruff, almost feral.

“It has been,” Terra agreed.

Who in the world was Terra talking to? I covered my mouth with a hand to stop from crying out in shock as the cloaked man removed his hood with clawed and furred hands, revealing the face of a wolf.  The man was a werewolf! He had long wolf-like ears attached to the sides of his head and harsh blue eyes as dark as the ocean depths. Razor-sharp teeth extruding from his maw. His cool gray fur, striking.

“How long will it take you to complete your mission?” the werewolf growled.

“Oris, my man,” Terra said, calm like he was speaking to an old friend, “Relax.”

Oris grunted. “Relaxation is the only thing you’re good at. Should I tell Trinity that you’re slacking?”

Terra paused. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking—his back was turned to me and there was a considerable distance between me and the two of them.

“It’s unusual to see you out in the open like this, Oris,” Terra said, ignoring Oris’s previous question. “Not really befitting of an assassin.”

A what?

A low growl rumbled in Oris’s throat. “I won’t be out for long. I’m just here to give you a little kick in the ass.”

Terra made a sound of disapproval before folding his arms. “You gonna fight me? Here?”

“No. Just give you a warning. Get yourself in gear,” Oris commanded. “Kill Nathan Blackwood, or I’ll do it for you.”

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Secrets 2.1

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Return From Heaven

My sister and I sat down at a fairly empty table, placing our small lunch trays on its surface. I speared a nugget with my fork and popped it into my mouth, Tiffany eying me all the while. We ate in silence for a few more moments before she popped the question.

“So, you keep seeing this huge castle in your dreams?”

I swallowed before frowning. “Yeah. It’s been getting clearer.” Ever since we’d come across Kazuya, I’d been having dreams of that land and the castle where the dragon king resided—of the children who would play with us there. Two of them, a small black boy and a girl with Asian features, oddly reminded me of Nathan and Katherine, my classmates.

“You see anyone in particular?”

I paused for a moment, thinking that over. Kazuya had been there, with a group of Valterians together in a city of gold. “I saw another fox person too, a woman, like a female version of Kazuya. I think someone that looked like Shekhinah was there too—and some other Arcadians.”

“That’s so weird,” Tiffany mused while frowning. ” I haven’t had any visions or dreams like that at all. Maybe it’s a sign or something.”

“Maybe,” I muttered. “I remember our mom and dad—I think it was Mom and Dad—holding our hands, walking with us in a golden city. Mom had wings like the other Arcadians did. Somehow, though, I knew she was a Valterian, like Kazuya. But she was a different race or something, you know? Kinda like how Kazuya explained how he, PTE, and Nexus were each from different breeds.”

Tiffany nodded. “What did Dad look like?”

I pressed my lips together in contemplation.  “Not sure, it’s still kinda fuzzy. It’s hard for me to describe exactly how Mom looked too.  Dad wasn’t a Valterian, he looked similar to Shekhinah except he was covered head to toe in silver armor.”

“Huh, so Arcadian then. I wonder what that means.”

“That our parents are actually gods pretending to be human—and they never told us?”

Tiffany’s eyes met mine. “Should we ask them?”

“Do you think they would actually tell us?”

“It’s worth a shot. We’d probably get in trouble though. They’d find out we lied again.”

My head dropped in defeat. I really didn’t want to explain to my parents how we found ourselves entangled in the middle of a cape fight. How I nearly died. I didn’t want to tell them that we managed to stick a virulent god who threatened to kill us in our basement either. If we told them what happened and they weren’t really gods or capes, it wouldn’t have been worth it.

I sighed. “This is why I wish Kazuya didn’t disappear on us.”

Tiffany was about to say something else when I pointed at Terra, who was walking up behind her, to get her attention. She turned to look his direction. Terra sat next to Tiffany, quickly dropping his food tray down on the table. Tiffany automatically poked at his plate with a fork and stole one of his chicken nuggets even though she hadn’t touched her own. Terra’s lips quirked upward as he grabbed Tiffany’s unopened milk, ignoring her protests.

I grinned as Tiffany attempted to feed Terra his stolen food back. The nugget stuck on the end the fork she gently held while she stuck it in Terra’s face. Terra rolled his eyes before eating it.

“You’re way too stressed out,” Tiffany said, looking at me while she continued to prod the air around Terra’s face with her now empty utensil. Terra swatted her fork away. “That’s probably why you’re having these freaky dreams. You need a new boyfriend,” she glanced at Terra thoughtfully. “Maybe we should share this guy?”

I scrunched up my face and narrowed my eyes at my identical twin, seriously wondering why in the world she would suggest something like that. I didn’t want to be a walking stereotype.

“So I’m ‘this guy’ now?” Terra asked amused. He smirked as he saw my expression. “I don’t think Mercy appreciates that idea, Tiff.”

Tiffany hummed. “You’re right. I’m too selfish to share you anyway,” she jabbed a finger at the bridge of Terra’s nose. “You belong to me,” Tiffany paused, looking Terra in the eye with an enthusiastic grin. “For-ev-er,” she said enunciating each syllable of the word while she snapped her fingers in Terra’s face—obnoxiously snapping her head from one side to the other at the same time.

Terra rolled his eyes with a smirk but he said nothing.

“I think I need a break from dating, in general,” I said. I glanced at Terra, who was trying his best to keep Tiffany’s hand at bay, blocking the tenuous pokes of her finger; he had made her cower backward as he threatened her with a barrage of his own playful slaps. “Why are you sitting here instead of with Nathan and the rest of the boys?”

Terra let out a brief chuckle, removing strands of long hair from his face after he finished batting Tiffany’s hands away. “I’m just tired of watching Tim trying to run game on Ashley. Besides, you guys were sitting here.”

As soon as Terra had mentioned my ex, I unconsciously looked over at the crowded table at the end of the lunchroom. The one next to the entrance of the outdoor lunch area; a table full of popular underclassmen. Were we usually sat. I caught Timothy sitting next to Ashley. He was smiling and joking around with her, attempting to get more of her attention. A nauseous yet burning feeling of disgust crawled up inside my stomach.

Tiffany gave me a quick glance before she scowled at Terra. “Don’t talk about that asshole around Ems.”

I shook my head. “It’s fine, Tiff.”

“No it’s not,” Tiffany said sharply, causing me to frown. “He’s a fucking rapist and he hurt you.”

I bit my lip hard, feeling annoyed even though I knew my sister was just worried and looking out for me. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of what happened that night or draw more attention to it. It was something better left forgotten.

“I have half of a mind to tell somebody what he did. I wonder what Ashley and the rest of girls he flirts with would think of him then.”

“That would just make things worse,” I said. My fists—currently laid on the table—tightened. “Just—just forget it.”

Tiffany glared at me and Terra interrupted the two of us before we fell into an argument.

“Is that why you guys aren’t sitting at the normal table with everyone else?” Terra asked. “I passed by it on the way here. People are talking. Ashley wants to know why you two have been avoiding her all day.”

I frowned internally at his words. Timothy was only one of the reasons we had avoided sitting with our normal group of friends. The harassment and bullying that the girls had continued to foist upon poor Katherine had started to become unbearable to watch.

“Then let them talk,” Tiffany said. “Ems still feels a little bothered by the Katherine thing.”

I made a grimace in distaste, guilt and shame erupted in my chest as I looked down at my lunch tray. Katherine Willow used to be a friend of mine, since freshman year. Though Katherine was considered to be nerdy by most, Ashley Hawke had taken a peculiar interest in her and had her join our group. I wasn’t sure why, exactly. Maybe it was because she could help us with our math homework or something. Katherine and I became close, she became more attached to me than Tiffany. She would often wait for me at my locker before homeroom so we could talk about her interest in Starcraft or some of the new books she was reading.

Our friendship didn’t last. Katherine had a falling out with Rika, my soccer teammate. A girl that could’ve been considered Ashley’s right hand. Ashley soon involved herself and Katherine was unofficially excommunicated from us. Soon after that, the bullying started. Ashley didn’t do anything to Katherine personally, something like that was beneath her. But she still didn’t stop our friends from cruelly torturing the girl.

Spilling drinks on her clothing. Egging the boys on to knock her books down in the hallways between classes. Stealing her homework assignments.

Worst of all was the fact that I stood by and did nothing about it. For some reason, after everyone started picking on her, I stopped talking to her. Our conversations had died off. I had let our friendship go. It eroded into dust just like that. For a moment, I was reminded of her teary eyes as she looked at me, pitifully crumpled to the floor with her clothing in a mess. She was pleading and asking why I wouldn’t help her. Asking why I was still friends with Ashley, still apart of her bitch squad.

Terra’s smile thinned after Tiffany brought up Katherine. He looked away, his eyes scanning the rest of the cafeteria. “Someone needs to talk to Ashley about that. It’s fucked up.”

“I’ve been telling the boys to knock it off,” Tiffany said. “But they don’t listen unless someone punches them in the face.”

I mulled the thoughts of Katherine over in my head. I didn’t help her and didn’t talk to her anymore. Why? Was it because I didn’t like her actions upsetting the peace that us girls had among one another other? Because she didn’t stay in her place? Maybe it because I was afraid of Ashley and the power she held. Tiffany had an excuse. I didn’t. She wasn’t friends with Katherine like I was.

“That’s not the only reason we choose to sit here though,” Tiffany continued. “We wanted to talk about something important. In secret.”

“So I’ve heard,” Terra replied. “You mean talk about what happened to you guys that night after the party? When I talked to you before first period, you told me you guys were involved in a cape fight.”

“Oh. My. God. Terra, you wouldn’t believe what happened after you left,” Tiffany said, grabbing Terra’s arm and moving her face closer toward his, getting in his personal space. Terra remained still, allowing his girlfriend to drag his forearm around. “You should have come with us. It was insane! They weren’t just regular capes either. We met freaking gods.”

“Gods?”

“Yeah. Two types, they’re called Valterians and Arcadians.”

Tiffany went into detail, explaining the fight we were plopped into and how we had met Kazuya. What we had learned about the gods: the source of hallowed powers. How ruthless Kazuya was in killing Shekhinah’s subordinates. How I was nearly cut in half.

Terra took it all in silently. He looked between the both of us with his penetrating gaze. “Well, I’m glad you guys are alright but are you guys seriously hiding someone that powerful in your basement?”

“Don’t look at me,” Tiffany said. She nudged me with a lazy finger. “Ems’ the one that wanted him around. I think we should’ve let the angel lady take him.”

Terra narrowed his eyes at her but the corners of his mouth curved upward. “Is that true, Mercy?”

Sure,” I said, drawing out the word while giving my sister a look. Tiffany was the one that actually grabbed Kazuya from Shekhinah’s hands. She tilted her head and winked, giving me an exaggerated smirk. I faced Terra, ignoring her. “It doesn’t really matter though since he had left last night.”

“Which is a good thing,” Tiffany said.

I sighed. “I wish he actually stuck around to answer our questions. I wanted to ask him about that place with the dragon king.”

Terra shifted in his seat, ever so slightly. Tiffany, whose arm was still touching his, noticed.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, looking at her boyfriend. “You don’t believe us?”

“No, I believe you alright,” Terra said, giving Tiffany a cheeky smile. “You couldn’t make this stuff up. It’s too crazy to be a joke, even for you.”

Tiffany stuck her tongue out at him. “One of these days, if our parents are out late working you should come over and meet fox-boy.”

“I will if you don’t get caught with him in the basement first,” Terra snarked.

“Well, if he actually comes back,” I added.

“Of course he’ll come back,” Tiffany said, flailing her hands in exasperation. “He’s a useless freeloader. A bum. It’s in his nature. Ems, do you actually think will never see that hairy mutt again? Always so stupidly naive and optimistic. What am I going to do with you?”

I rolled my eyes, smiling despite myself. “Whatever.”

“Such a mean sister,” Terra chided.

Stay out of it,” Tiffany ordered, jabbing his cheek with a finger. “This is a conversation between sisters.” She looked him up and down with a scathing look. “You might look the part, but that’s not enough to cut it.”

Terra frowned. “Don’t touch me.” Tiffany continued to prod Terra’s face at an even more fevered face. Chuckling, Terra finally grabbed her wrist midway through another poke. “Keep playing, and I’mma have to do something to you,” he warned.

Tiffany bit her lip and narrowed her eyes, giving him a seductive smile. “Do something and you won’t get any pussy for a week.”

Terra’s lips twitched with barely repressed humor. “You’re grounded for a week.”

“Just because I say a week doesn’t mean I’m talking about this one.”

“Of course,” Terra said dryly.

We ate and talked a little bit longer before Ashley, the perfect sophomore queen herself, strolled up to us. We spoke in hushed voices as she approached, looking up at her silently when she arrived at our table. She had come alone. I glanced at the empty tray she had in hand, her lunch eaten. The only reason Ashley walked by us was to throw her trash away.

“Sup?” Terra asked.

“Hey Ash,” Tiffany said in a plain voice, betraying nothing.

Ashley glanced at us for a moment in silence as if she were trying to feel us out, to figure out where our heads were at. She smiled. “Hello. Any reason why you three didn’t sit with us today?”

“Not really, just talking about personal stuff,” Tiffany said, giving her a strained smile. A smile she would often give me during the times I genuinely pissed her off.

“Personal stuff?” Ashley’s gaze overlooked my sister and I, her pretty hazel eyes vacillating between us at a leisured pace. “I heard that you two had gotten into trouble.”

“Yeah our parents caught us trying to sneak back in the house after the party,” Tiffany said, her lips forming into a small pout. “Of all the days they chose to stay up late, it was that day.”

“It was a Friday night,” Terra commented.

Ashley hummed to herself. “It’s unfortunate, but I’ll put in a good word for you so you’ll be in decent standing when you come back to the team. It’s a relief that the two of you don’t start yet.”

There it is. I kept myself from rolling my eyes as the corners of my lips lifted a little. There she goes again, still rubbing that in.

“Did you find out we got in trouble from Coach Stephen?” I asked.

Ashley shook her head. “No. Rika and Nicole told me. Did you directly tell the coach you couldn’t practice?”

“Yeah. He’s not too happy about it.”

“Of course he’s not. I’m not either. You both are valuable assets to the team. However, I can’t blame you, I was at that cad’s party as well.”

Tiffany snickered at Ashley’s choice of words. “Not too fond of Tim, I take it?”

Ashley’s calm and demure demeanor changed as her slight smile thinned. She tilted her head and shifted her body weight, holding her hips with unrestrained attitude. Timothy must’ve annoyed the crap out of her. “He tries my patience like none other.”

Tiffany scoffed. “I can believe that.”

“It seems like everyone knows we got grounded for going to Tim’s party,” I said.

“You know gossip runs in this school like wildfire,” Ashley said. “Anyway, what exactly happened that night? You had disappeared and when I talked to Nicholas he said you three left early.”

“I had gotten sick.”

“What she really means is that boy that’s been fawning all over you since the start of the semester tried to rape her.”

Ashley paused. I let out a choked cough, my eyes flashing over to Tiffany—wide with shock. She didn’t have to bring that up now. I slowly turned back to Ashley, only to notice that she was already examining me with a careful glare.

“Really now?” she asked in a cold voice, her hazel eyes on mine. They almost seemed if they were glowing gold—freezing me in place. “Didn’t you two break up?”

“Don’t worry about it,” I mumbled, looking downward. I didn’t want her to see it—I didn’t want her to see whatever I felt, the emotional turmoil that raged deep inside me like an endless storm—threatening to swallow me whole.

“No,” Ashley said with a definitive voice, her eyes still inspecting me. “I’ll handle it. He should know better than to do something so disgusting and despicable to one of my friends.”

“While you’re at it you should tell Rika and the girls to knock it off. Get them to stop picking on Katherine,” Tiffany said while folding her arms. “It’s making us all look really bad.”

Ashley looked toward her table. Everyone was clamoring to get up, squeezing out of the seats that were stuck so close together. Students moved toward the garbage cans in droves, throwing out their trash while taking their empty lunch trays to the kitchen. People were cleaning up. Our lunch period had ended.

“I can agree with that,” Ashley said somewhat bemused. She gave my sister and me one last glance. “Anyway, Mercy. Tiffany. I’ll see you both in history class,” She faced the silverish-gray eyed boy next to my sister. “Terra.”

Terra leaned back in his seat; he nodded a subtle goodbye without speaking. Ashley left us and we had started to clean up our table so we could make it back to our classes on time.

After the lunch, the rest of the day had gone by quickly—surprising for a Monday. After we finished our last class of the day with Mr. Tate, Tiffany and I had split up. I went to my locker to retrieve my math textbook while Tiffany went on a small adventure in search of Terra. Packing my things at the locker, I waited a couple of minutes for my sister and her boyfriend to meet up with me.

They didn’t show. I checked my phone. The buses would leave soon. Tired of waiting, I decided to go look for them. What mess had Terra and Tiffany gotten into now? I almost sent Tiffany a text, but then I decided against it. I knew she wouldn’t answer me, or worse, answer back when it was too late.

I moved through the crowded hallways, bumping into various students that were busy trying to reach the school exits. Looking for Tiffany and Terra was more of a pain than I thought it would be, with people constantly blocking my path. I fought my way upstream, pushing past everyone; I went the opposite way of oncoming traffic. Soon, I found myself crashing into Diana, a friend of mine I had met through Ashley.

“Looking for Tiff?” she asked with a slight smile, looking like her usual perceptive self. “I saw her with Terra walking outside. Near the front of the school.”

What were they doing on opposite side of the building? It was time to go. I thanked Diana quickly before moving on, the hallways of students clearing up as I moved toward the other side of the school, toward the front. Eventually, I found Tiffany and Terra outside, sitting on the steps to the main school entrance.

“What are you guys doing?” I said after walking out the front door from the inside. “The buses are going to leave.”

Tiffany stood up and shook her head as she rambled toward me. “Terra got held up by some stupid bullshit. He has after-school detention.”

I clasped my forehead with a hand and leaned back in irritation, my head facing toward the sky. “Again? Are you serious?”

“It’s the damn assistant principal,” Tiffany complained, her eyes focused on Terrawho was still sitting on the concrete steps. “I swear he has a hard-on for you or something.”

Terra snorted at her remark, looking miffed.

“I’m going to stay with him for a bit. You hurry up and catch the bus,” Tiffany said.

I frowned. “If Mom and Dad get back early and you’re not home, you’re going to get chewed out.”

Tiffany glanced at me and giving me a careful smile. She placed a hand on my shoulder.

“That’ll be my problem, Ems. You don’t need to get dragged down with me all the time.”

“If you’re sure.”

“I’ll try come home as soon as I can.”

I left them both at the steps, going back inside the school. I hoped I could reach the school bus parking lot in time. It helped that I could run through the building now that it was practically empty, except for the janitors and a few faculty members. I was the last person to make to the bus lot but I had arrived just in time. Exactly when the first row of buses had started to leave.

The bus ride home was quiet as I sat in the front. The back of the bus was crowded, full of people I really didn’t talk to or associate with. It made sense. I was used to staying after school for soccer practice, with my sister. In and out of school we spent most of our time hanging around the girls on the team. Since practice would always end after the late bus had already left, our parents often picked us up unless we were offered a ride home from a teammate.

The bus ride back took longer than usual as our driver had to navigate around the area of roads that were blocked off by SIGMA and the police. Blocked off from damage caused by the fight between Kazuya, Shekhinah, and her Arcadian warriors. Warning signs along with SIGMA trucks littered the sides of the street while yellow caution tape could be seen everywhere between the roads and houses, obstructing specific areas. 

I had gotten off the bus with a couple students but we quickly parted ways, everyone going to their own places. The bus stop was relatively close to my house. It was only a five-minute walk.

Arriving home, I used my keys to enter through the side door, next to the garage. Our parent’s cars weren’t in the driveway. They didn’t get back from work yet. After locking the side door from the inside, I briskly climbed the small steps to reach the second door that led inside the house.

I paused. It was quiet. Too quiet. My gut started to sink after a nagging feeling of caution had overwhelmed me. Something had felt off. I couldn’t quite place it. Energy filled the air. A tense pressure I hadn’t felt since that fateful Friday night after Timothy’s house party. When my sister I walked back home alone. I shook my head. What was I afraid of? I opened the door and wandered inside. After locking the door I turned around, my eyes widened as I saw a flash of gold.

Shekhinah, the Arcadian warrior of Kairanna, the one who wielded the blood-colored poisonous lance that was able to wound Kazuya—was standing right in the middle of our living room!

I shrieked and fell backward, terrified—fearing for my life. Shekhinah, who was busy glancing at the family pictures hanging on the wall, turned to face me. As she took a step closer, her horned helmet evaporated, vanishing from her head into thin air—letting her long hair run free.

Shekhinah stopped as she saw me scramble away from her; I slid backward on the wooden floor, edging away slowly. She paused for a moment and the shining aura around her beautiful armor had dimmed a little.

“Peace, child,” she said while studying me calmly. “I only I wish to speak with you.”

Previous Next

Awakening 1.6

Previous Next

Caught 

“What happened to him?” I whispered, looking down at Kazuya—his eyes closed shut, my hands still gripping him shakily. Worried, I glanced at Tiffany. The expression on her face was oddly muted. Tiffany looked back at me blankly before glancing down at Kazuya’s unconscious body. She shook her head.

“I don’t know,” she said.

The tattoo on his back started to glow brighter as he thrashed about ferociously in obvious pain. Tiffany quickly sat next to me, trying to help me hold Kazuya down as he flailed about. She eventually pulled me away from him as I was nearly hit by one of his powerful tails—claiming it was dangerous to stay next to him and that I was insane for even wanting to in the first place.

I tried to shrug her off but she wasn’t having it. As I struggled to pry myself away from my sister’s grip, we didn’t notice Shekhinah approach us. Eventually, we did notice her and realizing that the warrior who had threatened our lives was still near us caused us to clam up. Tiffany and I stood up backed away from Kazuya as Shekhinah advanced, looking at his body on the ground with narrowed eyes.

“Back off,” Tiffany warned, standing in front of me, attempting to shield me from the Arcadian warrior. Shekhinah gave her a sharp glance, her eyes full of grief and anger before returning her gaze to Kazuya.

“He used too much power,” Shekhinah muttered, her voice bitter. “The sacred seal is killing him.”

Both Tiffany and I stared in silence as she knelt at Kazuya’s side. Feeling Tiffany’s grip loosening, I freed my wrist from her hand and approached Shekhinah ignoring my twin’s shocked protest.

“That seal… it’s responsible for the power he used before. How he was able to transform. Is that reason he’s dying?”

Shekhinah turned her head fixing me with a glare. “The Sacred Seal was given to The Valterian clan leaders by those were once Irregulars, the Old Gods.”

Old Gods? I thought. Kazuya had mentioned something about the Irregulars before. Were the Old Gods a particular group of them? A sect?

“Kazuya must have been given the seal by the leader of the Fox clan,” Shekhinah continued, not noticing me lost in thought. “It bestows the power of the Old Gods on the user but not without a tremendous price. It requires a considerable amount of spiritual energy to use and control and he is lacking it. As he is now, he will die from the strain.”

Tiffany frowned, looking at Shekhinah suspiciously. “Didn’t you poison him? You said you did with your spear.”

I was reminded of the battle that Kazuya and Shekhinah had earlier during the night; memories of Kazuya’s shoulder being pierced by a shining lance the color of blood materializing in my mind’s eye.

Shekhinah shook her head, answering Tiffany’s question. “It was said that the powers of the Old Gods could heal all things,” she glanced back at Kazuya. “With the amount of vapor he released in that form, I can believe it. I can’t sense my energy inside him, the seal was able to burn the poison out from within.”

Tiffany hummed to herself, glancing at me slightly before facing Shekhinah. “So I take it you don’t want to kill fox-boy anymore? Judging by the way you’re talking about him and explaining everything. I mean if you were going to you would’ve done it by now.”

Shekhinah gritted her teeth while looking downward, almost like she was hiding her face in shame. “I… I was tasked to bring Kazuya back,” Shekhinah said, spitting out Kazuya’s name in spite, “by any means possible. Dead or alive. I should’ve have killed him. I should kill him. For what he did to my subordinates. My warriors.” Shekhinah’s fists tightened. “My students…”

My eyes widened as a feeling akin to fear rose in my gut.

“But killing him won’t bring them back. An easy death is not sufficient enough for the pain he has caused.”

I bit the edge of my lip as I saw tears roll down Shekhinah’s cheeks. I felt pain in my chest. A dull but warm feeling. Even though Shekhinah was an enemy, seeing her in turmoil, overcome with emotion was almost unbearable. Her students had been killed by someone she presumably had a deep relationship with. I didn’t know—I couldn’t even begin to comprehend what she was feeling but I still felt the urge to comfort her, even though I couldn’t do anything.

“Well,” Tiffany said, pulling me out of my thoughts and feelings. “If you’re not gonna kill us or that lump of fur, what will you do? Can you stop him from dying?”

“The only thing I can do to possibly save him is to bring him to Arcadia as a prisoner, ” Shekhinah said. “But now, I’m hesitant to do so.”

“Why is that?” Tiffany asked.

Shekhinah ignored her, turning away from us and grabbed Kazuya’s arm getting ready to lift him from off the ground. Kazuya had become less volatile—his body had stopped twisting and turning wildly, his tails no longer swaying through the air like walloping branches.

“Wait,” I said suddenly. My sister gave me a questioning look. It wasn’t rational but I didn’t want Shekhinah to take Kazuya away. I had a bad feeling that if she did I wouldn’t see him ever again.

“What is it?” Shekhinah asked.

“Don’t take him.”

“You want me to save him, don’t you? Then I need to take him to Arcadia.”

I shook my head. “There has to be another way. We can call for an ambulance or, maybe SIGMA, they have medics that specialize in capes.”

Shekhinah scoffed at the notion. “This illness is beyond the power of simple humans and hallowed such as capes. It is divine in origin.”

I narrowed my eyes. “And hallowed aren’t? Kazuya told us about how halloweds really get their powers. They’re descendants of Valterians.”

Shekhinah frowned. Tiffany tapped me on the arm.

“Why are you so adamant about it?” she asked. “The longer you keep her here the worse he’s going to get. He looks like he’s gonna croak any second now.”

I hissed through my teeth. “They know about us. The both of them. Don’t you want to know why? If she takes him now we may never find out anything.”

I wanted, no, I needed to know what these strange visions I had meant.

Tiffany shook her head exasperated. “Mercy, you seriously think we’re hallowed?”

“Of course!” I said looking at dismayed that she didn’t feel the same way. “Don’t you? Why else would Kazuya have said what he did?”

Shekhinah glanced at me quietly—she paused for a moment before looking down at Kazuya’s body still lying peacefully on the grass. The sacred seal on his back had stopped glowing. Her mouth opened wide in shock when she had touched Kazuya again.

“He’s no longer burning from within,” she muttered.

Within moments, Kazuya body changed—transforming back into a fox.

“What happened?” I asked.

“It seems that Kazuya has a better fortune that I’d have thought.”

“Is he okay, somehow?”

“The sacred seal was reacting violently because of the lack of vapor in his body, however, his condition has stabilized. Kazuya is a natural born master at pulling and transmuting spiritual energy from the environment. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did it unconsciously.”

Shekhinah grabbed the comatose Kazuya by the scruff, but before she could disappear with him I stepped forward.

“Wait a minute. You said he was fine now right?”

Shekhinah turned her head slightly, glancing at me with the corner of her eye. “It is my duty to complete my mission and bring him to Arcadia.”

Tiffany snorted, walking up to Shekhinah fearlessly. Tiffany took the small fox from Shekhinah’s arms while looking her in the eyes daring the Arcadian warrior to strike her.

“Tiffany!” I hissed. “Are you freaking crazy?”

Tiffany waved me off awkwardly with Kazuya in her arms. “She won’t do anything. She could have gotten rid of us anytime but she hasn’t. If she really wanted to take this guy wherever she would have grabbed him and been long gone. Instead, she’s busy entertaining our dumb questions. Isn’t that right Ms. Arcadian?”

My teeth clamped shut as my body felt wrought with anxiety. Did Tiffany have to be so antagonizing?

When Shekhinah didn’t respond, Tiffany continued. “You don’t want to take this little guy back to heaven do you?” she asked, dangling Kazuya by one of his tails. “Probably too good for him. Anyway, before you said you’re not sure about taking him and now you say it’s your duty. Which is it?”

“Tiff,” I muttered harshly in a desperate attempt to get her to stop talking. She was going to get us killed.

Shekhinah’s brow furrowed deeper. Her calm and cool demeanor replaced with an expression of anger and indignation. “You really are an insolent child.”

Shekhinah took a step toward us, causing us to quickly run the opposite direction. Tiffany and I dispersed through the dark neighborhood streets, Kazuya still in my sister’s arms. I didn’t know how long we ran but we moved together without looking back to see our pursuer. After few minutes we noticed Shekhinah wasn’t giving chase. Had we lost her? We waited a little while longer before heading back toward our home, stealthily passing by the neighborhood park that had been turned into a battlefield. Shekhinah was nowhere to be found. Instead around the perimeter were two SIGMA vans and a few cop cars. I noticed a couple of SIGMA agents inspecting the dead torn apart the body of the Arcadian warrior Aleph and the giant paw prints left behind by Kazuya’s large fox form.

Tiffany and I observed the group for a little while before moving on, sticking to the shadows of the houses close by so we wouldn’t be seen. Soon we found ourselves back on Easton Ave. Internally, a cool feeling of relief washed over me. Almost home.

We didn’t talk much the rest of the way, I was too busy replaying what happened during the night over and over again in my head. Tiffany looked at me with worry, picking up on my conflicted mood.

“Are you alright?” she asked. “What’s wrong Ems?”

“I’m fine.”

Tiffany had blown a gasket after hearing my reply, her worry quickly snapping to anger. “Fine? you’re Fine?

Tiffany shook her head exasperatedly while flailing her hands in utter disbelief. “So let’s see,” she said beginning to count with the fingers on one hand.” You get drunk at Tim’s party and pretty much lose it, nearly get raped by the douchebag, on top of that you run into a battle between freaking gods like an idiot and nearly get yourself killed. No, Mercy. You’re certainly not fine!”

I rolled my eyes at her overblown antics, annoyed at her still bringing up my ex-boyfriend. “What? You want me to talk about it? Is that it? What good will that do?”

“Better than trying to lock your emotions away and forget about it. You need to talk to someone.”

I shook head. “I know that Tiff. I just—I don’t know what to feel about it right now. Any of it. I mean…” I gently took Kazuya from her arms and pet the sleeping fox, smoothing the fur behind his ears. “All this is so much to take in. I need time.”

Tiffany sniffed with the hint of a smile on her face as she looked forward at the street ahead. “Well, when you want to talk about it I’m ready to listen.”

“Thank you,” I said smiling back, before glancing at Kazuya resting peacefully in my arms. “Hopefully, once this guy wakes up, we can figure out what’s going on.”

Tiffany glanced at me thoughtfully. “So who was the person the both of you talked about earlier, Nature—was it?”

I nodded. “One of the Elder Gods, apparently she’s responsible for creating our world. The whole universe, basically.”

Tiffany tilted her head slightly. “And you saw her.”

“Yeah, after I nearly got cut in half. We talked about a couple of things.”

“Oh yeah? What about?”

I looked at my twin sister carefully, considering what Nature had told me. “She said bad stuff may happen soon and I need to protect you.”

Tiffany laughed almost doubling over. She looked up wiping the tears of amusement from her eyes. “If anything, I’ll be the one protecting you.”

I snorted but smiled all the same.

“That place, the first realm was really amazing,”

“Yeah?”

“Mm-hmm. Fields full of an endless amount of trees that went on forever and they were these huge blades of fire surrounding the edges of everything, close to the horizon. Nature said something about a Tree of Life, but I don’t think I saw it.”

“Tree of Life? Sounds like a real Garden of Eden.”

“Mm-hmm. She mentioned two other gods helped her make everything.”

Tiffany hummed quietly in acknowledgment. We walked in silence for a moment.

“What kinds of gods are they really?” Tiffany mused. “If they’re all powerful and needed us for something important why did they let you get hurt? They didn’t help at all.”

I shrugged. “Maybe because Kazuya was here. I don’t think Nature would have personally asked me to do anything if I was going to die. She said that he’d explain everything to us. Like if we’re hallowed or not. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kazuya knew her personally, based on his reaction when I dropped her name. “

Tiffany gave me a pensive look. “How do you know whatever you saw wasn’t a dream or something?”

I frowned at her. “Even if it was does that make it any less real? But I don’t think Kazuya would have responded the way he did if it was just a dream. Considering all the crazy stuff that happened to us today, it wouldn’t be wise to doubt.”

Tiffany hummed grudgingly. “You’re right, this is a lot to take in. After fox-boy crash landed in front of us I’ve been asking myself ‘is this really happening’ all night. I still feel like I’m dreaming.”

“Yeah.”

“Still, I wonder why Nature wanted you to protect me when I spend most of the time looking after you.”

I gave her a mischievous smile. “Well, maybe cause you’re not doing a good job.”

Tiffany scoffed, pretending to be annoyed. “I do but it’s not my fault you go looking for trouble.”

I chuckled. “Don’t worry, I won’t run in front of a sword swinging maniac again.”

Tiffany narrowed her eyes, looking at me doubtfully. “You better not.”

“You don’t trust me?” I asked in a whining pleading voice. “Your own twin sister?”

Tiffany rolled her eyes. “Stop it.”

Within minutes we were home. We quickly scuffled across the backyard of our house, hoping to sneak inside quietly with our parents none the wiser. As we reached the cellar door next to the patio deck, I pulled the house keys from my pocket.

Tiffany held Kazuya while I opened the door.

“He still hasn’t woken up,” I said.

“We can worry about that after we get inside.”

We walked down the stairway after I closed the cellar door, my sister leading us through a small hallway that was connected to the main basement room. Turning on the lights as we entered, I looked around. Our basement actually was a pretty snazzy place. Dad had a bar installed a couple months back, kept full with various drinks to entertain guests. He even put a pool table next to it. A couple of our bean bag chairs were spread around the lounge area next some of two long sofas, close to the widescreen television.

I laid Kazuya on one of the couches before turning to my sister. “What should we do now?”

Tiffany shrugged while scrolling through a web browser on her cell phone. “I dunno. Maybe take him to the vet?”

“Tiffany, can you be serious for once?”

“Calm down, alright?” Tiffany looked at me, annoyed. “You’re too freaking loud. You’re gonna wake Mom and Dad,” My sister motioned toward Kazuya with a hand. “Anyway this guy is supposedly a god and he didn’t die yet so he probably won’t now.” She took another look at her phone. “He had a fever before. We can try putting a wet towel around his ears.”

“That’s what you’re looking up on the phone?”

“Yeah. I can only find what helps for sick dogs though.”

“Better than nothing,” I muttered.

I paused by the entrance of the stairway leading to the main floor before beckoning Tiffany to come with me to get water for Kazuya. My sister and I walked up the stairs, trying not to make too much noise, lest we wake up our parents.

“It’s kind of weird,” I whispered.

“What is?” my twin asked, her voice soft.

“I have this feeling of worry in my chest when I think about Kazuya. Not like I’m afraid of him or anything. It’s just—I really want him to be okay.”

The corners of Tiffany’s lips quirked up a little. “You’re worrying too much, about the wrong things. I don’t know why we even brought him back here. He’s dangerous and the people after him are dangerous too. There’s no telling what he’ll do when he wakes up. He’ll probably blow up our house.”

I shook my head. “Didn’t you feel it though? When he was about to get stabbed by that Arcadian?”

“Feel what?”

“I don’t know. Don’t you feel like he knows you somehow? That we know him? I just—I had this weird vision before I ran in front of him. It was like back when we really young, he was carrying us somewhere. He knows us. I’m sure of it.”

Tiffany frowned at my words as we had reached the kitchen. “But that doesn’t make any sense,” she said confused.

A familiar masculine voice cut through the air. “I agree.”

Tiffany and I froze like deer in headlights as our father flicked on the lights to the room, standing next to the hallway entrance that led to the bedroom staircase. Mother was right by him, her arms folded and looking just as disappointed. The fear of my parents’ wrath started to twist and tear through my stomach like a meat grinder.

“Where were the both of you?” Dad demanded.

Previous Next

Awakening 1.5

Previous Next

Killin’ It

“I can’t believe I agreed with you to take him back to the house,” Tiffany said as I carried the little fox—Kazuya in my arms. We moved quickly and quietly, continuing to make our way through the silent street of Easton Avenue, hoping to make it home within the next few blocks.

“We’ve already decided on this,” I said, referring to her last statement. “So stop complaining and deal with it.”

Tiffany scrunched her face, giving me an exaggerated look of faux-irritation. “My god, how’s has it come to this? My naive little sister has become a slut willing to bring strange old men home!”

“Oh, shut up,” I said while rolling my eyes in annoyance. “And what do you mean little? We’re the same age.”

“I came out like a second earlier which makes me the older sister, Duh. It’s simple logic. You should know this stuff, Ems.”

Kazuya turned around in my arms, fixing his glaring slit pupils on Tiffany. “Would you children stop with the bickering, you’re giving me a headache.

I was startled a bit as Kazuya’s voice echoed through the top of my skull. His telepathy would take some getting used to. Tiffany, on the other hand, looked pleased that we were annoying the fox Valterian.

“Good,” she balked at him scornfully. “Now you know how we feel after getting dragged into your mess.”

I smiled despite myself, rubbing Kazuya behind the ears in an attempt to soothe him. Tiffany had a habit of getting under the skin of people, but she only teased people she liked. Kazuya growled at me a bit as my fingers traveled through his fur, causing me to stop with a flinch.

Tiffany started to complain again, reprimanding Kazuya for trying to bite me until I could get her to calm down. Both Kazuya and Tiffany eyed me carefully as I tried to sneak my hand around Kazuya’s neck, striving to pet the fur around his ears.

Tiffany warned me but Kazuya didn’t protest, instead, he closed his eyes—seemingly ignoring us. As we continued to walk through the quiet streets, I observed the environment around us. Different vehicles were parked near the side walked we traversed, all of them empty. We passed by various shops and storefronts at a hasty pace. Most were closed. It was pretty late.

Even with Kazuya by our side, I didn’t feel comfortable walking through the city at night. It was just me and Tiffany—the two of us unarmed girls with a weakened cape. Luckily, we were in the safer parts of Ravensworth—the upper residential area, usually devoid of the distinct criminal activity and cape action that plagued the lower part of the city. Even though the city seemed peaceful and ran smoothly during the day, the hallowed gangs that ran Ravensworth’s underworld would rise to the surface at night. Particularity around the lower end of the city—the shopping district, downtown, and the waterfront as well.

I was grateful we didn’t have to deal with that on the way back, but something—a slight feeling of fear was worming its way through my mind. After everything that happened earlier, was the craziness of this night over? I huffed. Only a few more blocks before we were home.

“I wonder what our parents would say if they found out what happened to us tonight,” I said.

“They’d be horrified,” Tiffany replied. “Probably start screaming at us for going to the party in the first place. We’d be grounded for months.”

I shuddered at the thought of Dad’s angry face and my Mother’s disappointment. “That would be bad.”

“You’re worried for no reason,” Tiffany said in an effort to comfort me. “We don’t have to tell them. Check your phone. They haven’t called or texted, right? They haven’t called mine.”

Taking a hand off of Kazuya, I felt around my jeans pocket for my cell phone. I could feel cold jagged edges of metal against my fingertips. After scrounging around, I realized objects in question were my house keys after hearing them jingle. My phone was nowhere to be found.

“Crap,” I blurted out. “Don’t have it. I must have left it at Timothy’s place,”

“Seriously?” my sister asked. “I don’t wanna go back to that asshole’s house again.”

I sighed, thinking about my ex-boyfriend. Remembering how he tried to take advantage of me earlier. “Me neither.”

“I can get Terra or someone else to go by and pick it up tomorrow.”

I tilted my head pensively in thought. “Tim might bring it to school.”

Tiffany glanced at me carefully. “You think he’s gonna bribe you with it or something? Don’t worry, Terra and I will be there with you if that’s the case. He wouldn’t be stupid enough to try anything.”

I shook my head. “Timothy isn’t like that. The both of us made bad choices tonight.”

Tiffany mouth opened in surprise, she tilted her head—looking at me like I said something crazy. “Mercy. Are you serious?” She touched my shoulder firmly. “He tried to have sex with you, without your consent. He was fully aware of what he was doing. I don’t buy that he was buzzed bullshit either.”

Kazuya opened an eyelid and looked at us in annoyance. “Well, it is my opinion that whatever you two are babbling about can wait until we get to a safe haven.”

Tiffany scowled at him. “Nobody asked you, fox-boy.”

Be quiet. I need to rest so I can regain my strength. It wouldn’t do for me to be in this weakened state if the Arcadians manage to find us, now would it?

I looked down at the bundle of fur in my arms. “You mentioned something about getting in a fight with the leader of Arcadia before. What exactly happened? That woman said you were wanted for acts of aggression or something.”

Kazuya’s irritated sniff vibrated through our heads. “I don’t think that’s any of your business, my dear.”

“Uh—yeah, I think it is. Considering how you landed right in front of us, dragged us into a dangerous situation, and threatened to kill us. Plus the fact that we’re taking you home?”

Kazuya snorted. Tiffany grabbed one of his tails and tugged hard, but not enough to hurt. “Ems is right. You owe us, answer up.”

Kazuya growled at her. “Insolent girl! Have you no fear? Remove your hand,” Kazuya spat in disgust. “That is your problem. Humans this era have no respect.

I took hold of Tiffany’s hand unclasping her grip. She removed her hand without any complaint. No need to further antagonize the dangerous fox I carried in my arms.

“Look, Mr. Kazuya, I understand if you don’t what to tell us everything,” I said. “But I think we at least deserve to know that much. I had visions with you in them. Before I tried to help you. I can’t shake the feeling that you know something about us.”

Kazuya looked at me quietly for a moment before he sighed. “Just call me by my name, normally,” he said. “I can tell you more about it later, but the Arcadians have always had a complicated relationship with Valterians, especially us of the Fox clan.”

“What do you mean?”

They were never big on letting Valterians travel the worlds of lesser third-dimensional beings unmolested.”

“Third-dimensional—what?” Tiffany asked.

Lesser beings?

I frowned slightly looking at Kazuya. “When you say lesser beings are you talking about humans?”

Kazuya nodded. “That and more,” he opened his eyelid again to look at our surprised faces.”Please. Don’t tell me you believe your the only sapient life in this universe? Why are you so surprised after what you witnessed tonight? Even now gods walk your planet and you don’t even know it.

“Gods?” I whispered.

Of course. Nexus, the Type-Eater and more.

Tiffany looked at him, shocked. “Wait, Type-Eater? You mean PTE? That thing is a Valterian?”

I paused for a moment, trying to think what my sister was talking about. My eyes widened slightly as I remembered who PTE was. A huge crystallized metallic creature that looked similar to a gigantic jellyfish, like an alluring eldritch abomination. It was nicknamed ‘The Jellyfish” by most people until the Special International Guarding Military Agency or SIGMA and the American government had renamed it to Primordial Type-Eater years later. It first appeared from space during the sixties and after a few resolving a few misunderstandings with Earth’s governments, it began traveling the world non-stop, randomly helping people during times of need or other calamities. Type-Eater was considered the first hero of the modern era.

Kazuya confirmed that PTE was a Valterian, from the same place as Nexus and himself. He claimed PTE was one of the first Valterians created in fact. Interestingly enough, I noticed that all the ‘gods’ in question all looked very different from one another. Nexus looked like a normal human, Kazuya had fox ears and nine tails, and PTE was something indescribable altogether. Perhaps the word Valterian was a classification of sorts, like a genus, that of multiple species.

“I still have so many questions,” I muttered. “Are the Valterians like a broad group of races under the same umbrella? You seem so different from one another, and when you called us third-dimensional beings… are you saying that you’re from a higher one?”

Kazuya harrumphed. “I told you, you would have your answers soon didn’t I?” He sighed in annoyance. “Great Elders, these children will be the end of me.

“I was—”

Yes, curious child,” Kazuya said cutting me off. “You are correct to a point. Valterians are distinct as a group, however, even though we may have ‘breeds’ we are not divided the same way humans or other species on this planet are. When everything began, the start of our race, we were spiritually created from the Elder Gods, unlike the Irregulars who were born from them biologically. As for your second question, I’m sure Nature spoke of the Seven Realms did she not?

I nodded. “She mentioned something about it. She told me we were in the Realm of Contraception when we talked.”

The first realm,” Kazuya acquiesced. “Here, the realm which you exist in now is the seventh, the Realm of Solids. It is full of first, second, and third-dimensional beings such as yourselves. You have a spirit but you need a physical body to exist and interact in this realm. Fourth-dimensional beings such as Valterians or Arcadians requires no such thing.

“You guys aren’t physical?” Tiffany asked.

Not in the way you may think. The more we solidify ourselves, the greater impact we can have on the physical world. Unfortunately, that can make it harder to control our abilities.”

“So, what realm do you Valterians come from then?” I asked.

The fourth. The Realm of Heavens, where the gods exist,” Kazuya said. “Where the great land of Valteria exists.”

I hummed. “I assume those Arcadians are from there too? Arcadia?”

Arcadia exists in the Realm of Heavens, yes. Separate of Valteria, as well as others.

Tiffany whistled in appreciation. “Seems like the afterlife is full of grandeur.”

Kazuya snorted at her proclamation. I absentmindedly smoothed his fur-coat, softly kneading it through my fingers. “It seems like Arcadians don’t really like Valterians that much. Considering what that woman said before.”

Kazuya chuckled, amused. “You’ll never be able to agree with Arcadians on anything. They envy us for being the first race created by the Elders since they will be forever second. The Arcadians feel that they are superior to us; They look down on us for mating with lower beings, feeling we should be punished by the Elder Gods.

“Lower beings?”

Yes,” Kazuya said in a charming voice, entertained by the fact that I found being called a lower being insulting. “Even the humans of this world. You didn’t think the hallowed gene came out of nowhere did you?

My mouth dropped. “But we were told—”

That it was due to evolution?” Kazuya let out a humorless laugh. “Humans weren’t originally designed to have powers. That is only possible because some of your race has Valterian ancestors.

Designed?

I glanced at Tiffany her eyes meeting mine, our gazes solemn. Could it be possible?

“Do we have Valterian ancestors?” I asked him.

Kazuya laughed again, refusing to answer.

“Drop him,” Tiffany demanded, tapping my shoulder. “If he won’t answer he can walk rest of the way.”

I shook my head. “We can probably get him to tell us, eventually.”

You’d have to make it worth my while,” Kazuya said.

Only a few more blocks from home, we cut through a neighborhood park. But, as soon as we stepped onto the thin grass of the park fields, Kazuya surprised me—jumping out of my arms landing on the ground with his four paws.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

Soon after, for golden lights appeared from the shadows. The Arcadian warriors that were chasing us before revealed themselves. Aleph, Caphriel, the one who nearly killed me, Tartys, and leader of the group, Shekhinah. They walked toward us, majestically with weapons in hand—their golden armor mixed with silver shining radiantly in the night.

Kazuya instantly transformed to his humanoid form, growing in size as most of his fur coat shed to reveal human-like skin. He was still unclothed, but Tiffany and I really didn’t care at the moment. I could feel the fear erupt deep inside, twisting my stomach in knots. We had narrowly escaped the Arcadians before when Kazuya was still able to fight. Now, with Kazuya even weaker, we had no chance.

Shekhinah stepped forward; She flashed her pairs of wings and pointed her crimson lance at Kazuya. “You didn’t think you could escape, did you? I’d recognize your fox form anywhere.”

Kazuya sighed. “Of course you would, Shekah. I must say, you’ve really become an annoyance. You did never know how to give a man space.”

Shekhinah growled, her visor reforming under her helmet hiding her golden eyes from view. “Enough of your nonsensical stalling. You fall here!”

The Arcadian knights surrounded us as Kazuya moved ahead a few feet. Shekhinah approached Kazuya from the front, slowly walking toward him with her deadly lance in hand.

Kazuya gave her a confident smile. “You know me well Shekhinah, but there are things I haven’t even told you about.”

Shekhinah looked a little discontented by Kazuya’s claim but she continued to move forward, waiting for Kazuya to make a move. Kazuya turned his face a little to get a better look at us.

“You two should stand back,” he said. “If there is an opening, run, don’t look back.”

“Will you be alright?” I asked, fearing the worst.

“That’s not important. I will hold them off long enough for you to escape.”

Shekhinah huffed. “Still giving out empty promises, Kazuya?” she mocked. “You were hit by my lance. Your body is probably feeling the effects it’s poison now. You won’t be able to do anything.”

What? I looked at Kazuya, aghast. Was he poisoned this entire time?

“You know,” Kazuya said, “I was actually surprised how you found us at first. I kept vapor signature was low enough to be undetectable. There was no reason for you lot to be here. Then I remembered,” Kazuya smirked while looked at Shekhinah, “How you came into contact with these girls before.”

Kazuya motioned a hand toward Tiffany and I. For a moment, it seemed as if the other Arcadians hesitated like they were demanding for Shekhinah to defend herself.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said.

“You never do. Sadly, you’re a woman that does not understand subtlety. It never ceases to amaze me.”

“Attack!” Shekhinah yelled angrily, her warriors charging toward Kazuya at her command.

Tiffany clutched my arm, pulling me further away from Kazuya. “Ems, we need to run now.”

“But, Kazuya!” I complained.

“All we can do here is get killed!”

“Your sister is right, Mercy,” Kazuya said getting on all fours, his tails whipping through the air. “Step back if you don’t want to die.”

“Still bluffing?” Aleph yelled running up to Kazuya swiftly with his blades in hand.

Kazuya chuckled before breaking out into a maniacal laugh. “You left me too much time to recover,” Kazuya started to glow with with with golden aura as an elegant fox tattoo with nine-tails spreading from the center became visible on his back glowing a bright orange. “I didn’t want to use this man’s power; I can barely control it. But I have no choice! Let’s die together shall we?” he exclaimed.

Kazuya roared toward the sky as his body had increased in size. Fur grew from his skin rapidly. Within moments he changed into a giant fox, as big as most of the houses in the area. Aleph faltered as he looked up at the growling monster, frozen with fear. Kazuya quickly swiped him with a huge paw. Aleph attempted to dodge but it was too late, he was bisected in two as Kazuya’s claws tore through his abdomen. Blood and guts, Aleph’s intestines, poured out the bottom of his torso as he fell, his legs thrown across the park fields. He squirmed in excruciating pain on the ground for a moment coughing up blood, reaching for his teammates before he died.

I was horrified. Even though he was an enemy, seeing him die right in front of me made me sick. Lightheaded. I hunched myself over and hurled, vomiting the lunch I didn’t know I had eaten. I felt like I was about to fall over. Tiffany had the presence of mind to hold me up for balance. I glanced at her, her facial expression oddly detached.

“Aleph!” Tartys yelled, after seeing his disemboweled ally. “Bastard!”

Tartys flew up into the air as a luminous energy formed around his golden blades, extending them. He aimed a for Kazuya’s neck preparing to behead him.

“Tartys!” Shekhinah warned while flying trying to reach him.

It was too late; one of Kazuya’s colossal sized tails had lashed him from behind, sending him flying before he was grasped by Kazuya with one paw-like hand. Kazuya summarily crushed Tartys, squeezing him tight enough for blood to drip from his hand. Shekhinah and Caphriel tried to save Tartys, but they were held at bay by Kazuya’s swaying tails.

Kazuya threw Tartys into his mouth, chomping down on him hard as he screamed for mercy. Hearing the disgusting sound of skin and bone being twisted, torn, and crushed by razor-sharp teeth as blood-drenched the ground made me feel nauseous inside. Kazuya spat Tartys out, his lifeless body hitting the ground with a pitiful thud before it was crushed by Kazuya’s hand.

“You monster,” Caphriel gasped, seeing how quickly her friends had fallen. Kazuya wasted no time as a ball of white light, of pure energy, formed in the front of his open maw. Before I could blink, Kazuya projected the ball outward. It shot like a laser beam from his mouth, the sound of it ringing through the air. The beam immolated Caphriel, disintegrating her before she had time to react.

Kazuya roared again his voice echoing through the sky. He turned to look at my sister and I. My heart stopped. He was going to kill us next. Before I could even piss myself, Kazuya turned to look at Shekhinah, who had fallen to the ground in despair looking at where her friends stood before only a few moments ago.

“So that was it,” Shekhinah said in a shaky voice, disillusioned as her lance rolled out of her weak grip. “You were given one of those seals…”

Tears welled up in her eyes. “This was pointless from the start.”

The giant fox stopped over to Shekhinah and then stopped in front of her. Shekhinah glanced upward, look Kazuya in the eyes as tears ran down her face. She was unafraid. Shekhinah may have been defeated but she would die like a warrior, with pride and honor.

“What are you what are you waiting for? Kill me.”

Kazuya roared in her face saliva raining down on Shekhinah before he closed eyes tightly and locked his jaw shut. Kazuya started to shake forcefully like he was struggling to make a decision. Soon after, a bright aura wrapped around his body as he shrunk back down to his human size, fur disappearing from his skin as it was shed off. The tattoo on his back that glowed orange from before had turned black.

Kazuya rubbed his forehead softly as if he had a terrible headache. “Is that what you want me to do, my love?”

Shekhinah looked down at the ground. “I failed my mission, against you that means death. I let my team die. It won’t be acceptable for me to appear before Lord Corinath like this. I cannot face him with such disgrace… It’s only fitting for me to be with my subordinates.”

Kazuya rolled his eyes. “You didn’t kill them. I did.”

He smirked as Shekhinah looked at him angrily her fists tightening. “I won’t kill you Shekah. I can’t, even if I wanted to. The Sacred Seal was the last thing I had in my arsenal and it’s not really my power in the first place. I don’t have any energy left to fight. You on the other hand…”

He glanced the lance that near his feet. Shekhinah didn’t make an effort to reclaim it.

“You could if you wish to. I’m in your hands now. What will it be?” Kazuya asked.

Shekhinah turned away from him refusing to answer. Kazuya simply grinned at her before turning away. She had lost her desire to fight. As Kazuya approached us I gawked at the destruction he had caused. If anyone saw us and took video or pictures, we’d on the news in a heartbeat. Surprisingly the police or SIGMA didn’t appear yet.

“Ladies,” Kazuya said with a smile. “Are you alright?”

Tiffany nodded but I didn’t move.

“You killed them…” I whispered.

Just like that three lives had vanished before my eyes. Kazuya nodded. “And they would have killed you if I didn’t. Or report you to the Lords of the Twelve Celestial Kingdoms at least. Trust me, we don’t need the entire Arcadian military on our necks.”

Tiffany eyed the Arcadians warrior still on her knees. “Then why didn’t you kill her? Won’t she tell? ” she asked.

I looked at my sister, appalled. Was she really advocating for Kazuya to kill someone else?

“She won’t, so it’s not worth it. I don’t need to kill an opponent whose will has been broken.”

Tiffany frowned but I couldn’t tell what she was thinking. Maybe she didn’t believe him. I had my own reservations about that as well, he didn’t seem to have a problem with getting rid of the other Arcadians, even Caphriel who knew attacking him after he transformed was futile.

“She won’t attack us,” Kazuya said trying to ease our worries. “I can promise you that.”

“Seems like you guys have a history,” Tiffany remarked.

Before Kazuya could reply, he grabbed his chest hard—with a hand over his heart. He locked his eyes shut, gritting his teeth in pain as he fell to the ground on his stomach. Kazuya coughed while writhing in the grass. Breathing heavily while spitting out thick phlegm as he started hyperventilating. The tattoo on his back started to glow, but he wasn’t moving.

“Kazuya?” I asked in a worried voice. I touched his shoulder feeling the heat seep off of his skin. Hot! It was like his whole body was having a fever. “Kazuya!” I shook his body but he still wouldn’t respond. “What’s wrong? Kazuya!”

Previous Next

Awakening 1.3

Previous Next

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.

Previous Next

Awakening 1.2

Previous Next

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?

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