The heavy door creaked as it opened. Its slow movement allowing light to spill in. The light filled the doorway, but could not bridge the darkness inside. A biting cold air sinking deep within. A daunting pressure circulating the room.
A figure appeared at the entrance. The light hit its back, shrouding its visage in darkness.
King opened his eyes. He moved to get up, the chains on his limbs rattling as he did. He coughed. His throat was dry; his breath haggard.
“Haha! How many years has it been?” The figure’s voice dripping of a smile. “In all that time you haven’t changed… Oh? Not going to give dear me a welcome?”
“How-?” King rasped.
“How did I find you? You should have known better than to come back to this country. How foolish. Now that I have you, this is the end. And a new chapter will begin.”
King coughed again. He finally got up on his feet but as he tried to take a step, he tumbled back down.
“I injected you with a sedative. It’s wearing off, but it will be until tomorrow until you get any of your former strength back, R-”
“King!” King roared. But after that roar he was drained. He collapsed on his back, the chains rubbing against his flesh, ripping out his fur.
The figure laughed. “How can you be king? Have you heard of a king without a domain? Forget it! You lost. King Dark wants you.”
“He is not king! He will never be a true king as long as I live.” King sucked in the icy wet air, trying to fill his lungs oxygen, to fuel his muscles, but regardless, he had no energy. His eyes were closing, the darkness swarming.
“King Dark has married. His position has solidified. As for you? Now your death is not necessary, but it is still warranted for everyone to move on. Only now, King Dark has requested for you to be brought to him alive. And now that he has gained more power, you friends no longer wish to help you.”
“Oh? Isn’t you being here proof enough? Did you think we were watching all the city entrances for ten years? Stop deluding yourself. Well, it doesn’t matter, really.” The figure smiled and tapped the side of his head. “As long as you are happy in here.”
The figure turned around; the door closed behind him.
And King was left in shadow.
The moon was high in the sky. The wind was moist but cold. It flew from the east, drawing to the north. Before a school campus in Olato City, were thick bushes. On ground within a bush, a handsome youth laid. Dried blood caked the side of his head. He was mostly naked, except for the white briefs he wore and the dirty piece of linen crumpled on his chest.
A beetle, with its shell a deep red, black spots all over, and white spots behind its head, crawled over the youth’s tender skin. It crawled over his chest near the piece of linen, coming to the center of a tattoo that spread from the top of the heart across the upper torso, marring the shoulder and down his side. The beetle then crawled low, resting upon his nipple.
A cool breeze came across, the youth’s body shuddered against the cold- his flesh goosed. The nipple erected, and that movement along with that tiny shudder shook the beetle. The beetle bit down.
“AAah!” The youth roared. He slapped out due to reflex. The pain grew worse. He looked down on his chest. The beetle’s pincer’s dug deep into his nipple, growing deeper still.
He cursed and took the beetle between his fingers and pressed as hard as he could. The beetle squished’ white, red, and brown puss popped out, squirming out on his fingers.
The youth got up, coming from out of the bushes. “Where are my clothes?” He fumed. “Whoever did this, I will kill you!”
The youth looked towards the school campus and frowned. He did not head in that direction. Turning around he headed back into deep areas of the city where shops and inns were held. He tried to stay out of the open, Holding his hand in front of his area.
A bit of blood trickled down from his nipple.
“Ah” A female averati screamed. “You bunch of perverts! First yesterday, and now today! I’m calling the guard!”
The youth yelped, startled. The female averati’s scream came from behind him. She yelled and yelled calling over the night patrol. As he heard running, and fire crystal lantern lights rocking in the distance, the youth ran.
“I’m really going to kill the guy who did this!” He cursed under his breath.
The youth ran to the inn he was staying at before. He ran in, and up the steps to his room. He jiggled the doorknob, but it would not turn. It was locked. And his key was in his stolen tunic.
The youth went back down. He rung the bell.
A girl sitting behind the counter, with her head down, and golden locks ruffled, propped up. Her golden speckled violet eyes widened. “What are you doing? Are you trying to ruin this girl’s innocence?!”
“Stop playing around. I need a key. Hurry, before someone sees!”
The girl laughed. She reached down under the counter and brought up a key, and tossed it over. “Next time you’re going to have to tell me what happened.”
The youth ignored the girl and back up the stairs and into his room. He closed the door. He was fuming. “I’m going to find the guy, gut him, and burn his guts in front of his bastard family!.. But how am I going to find him? Can’t just go asking questions. It’s too shameful to find out that I was robbed!” It was then that the youth realized that the linen clothes were still in his hands. He had grabbed them by reflex when he left the bush. He looked at it in disgust and tossed it away.
But as the linen hit the wall, it hit with a loud thud.
The youth was startled. He picked up the linen tunic, ignoring the pants. He had figured that the clothes belonged to the person that robbed him, but had not paid much attention until now. As he picked up the linen again, it was then that he noticed that it felt heavier than it should have for such a raggedy piece. Reaching in, his hand found an envelope.
The envelope was white with golden curves dressing it. “The guy must not be poor. Or maybe he stole it. In any case it’s a lead.”
The youth smiled wickedly.
“Got you, you bastard.”
Talia laid back. The top of the water steamed in the wafting air. Her hair was up, and the water reached her neck. Her eyes were mostly closed, staring into the star filled sky through the narrow gap. The heat pressed against her body. She moaned.
The large bath was built like a spa. It was averati-made, not natural, but the flat smooth stones around gave it a natural, but lovely look.
Talia could not help her thoughts from drifting to the cloaked figure. She did not know his name. All her father would say was that his backing was the Linay Family. A Family that spearheads only a second class city, but that second class city was leaps beyond what Olato could be compared with.
Talia was young. She was only a few years past twenty. But she had not yet married. That did not bother her, but it bothered her father. He had always found ways to bring men into her life, enticing them to get to know her more with the intention of marriage. But Talia rejected them all. And now?
Talia had not hatred from the cloaked figure. But she had a sinking feeling from the way that her ‘dear old dad’ told her about the man’s background, that he was up to his tricks again.
Right by Talia, on the stone behind her head, was a thin grey card with the symbol of the school engraved on its surface. Usually Talia kept that within her robes that hung on a line a distance away while she bathed.
But for some reason she kept it with her. A mistake, maybe, or an unconscious decision. Either way, as Talia breathed a sigh, expelling her thoughts, the card symbol flashed. The symbol glimmered red and gold.
Talia’s eyes opened wide. She twirled around and picked up the card. It was a staff wide message. She placed her finger on the card, and a message reeled within her mind. A message that called for every possible campus guard.
“So that bastard infiltrated the library. He got into the bottom floor?!” Talia jumped up. The water trickled down her neck, her breasts, her legs, and the rest of her body, dripping back into the pool of water.
She sighed. And then an strong, but focused aura built up around here. The droplets of water blasted off of her and she jumped out of the heated pool, landing on the slippery stone with ease. She rushed, and in one swift motion, she was back in her robes.
Talia disappeared into the night, heading north.
An injured boy laid down on white sheets in a hospital. He groaned in pain.
“Cotter.” A girl whined. “Don’t die, Cotter.”
“He won’t die. Stop your whimpering. The doctor said he will survive, though it will take a week or two for him to fully heal.”
The girl’s eyes were puffy. She glared hotly at the boy who stood next to her. “If you feel that way then go! The others have all already gone to their warm beds.”
“Hmph. He’s my friend. I have to watch him. What about you? You barely know the guy. If I remember you treated him like crap. Why the sudden change?”
“Ugh. You’re insufferable!”
The boy turned away. He seemed as if he had no wish to continue the bickering.
Footfalls came down the hallway. Getting closer and louder. It was nighttime, and since there were barely any visitors, the running sounded awfully loud. A nurse called out to slow down, but the footfalls did not seem to even hesitate.
The door burst open. A boy leaned against the entrance, panting.
“Cotter wake up! You got a letter!”
Cotter groaned in the bed.
“Stop trying to wake him. He needs his sleep!” The girl yelled.
Cotter groaned more as he slowly pushed himself up. The boy next to the girl laughed. “Look at that, the one trying to keep the room quiet ends up the loudest. You woke him up!”
“Shut up! I didn’t!”
The boy at the entrance rushed over. “Cotter! Cotter! Take it.” Cotter looked at the boy and said. “Ni Da. What is all this about?”
The boy named Ni Da stuffed an envelope in Cotter’s hands. The envelope was not large, but it was thick, as if it had a lot in it. On the outside it had gold and red symbols shimmering all over, and in a cursive and beautiful writing, there was a name.
“Cotter Price. Welcome to Crawfield.”