This is rated mature because there is crude humor and violence.
She thought she was going to overthrow him. She was wrong. Broken Shadows would never rule over Black Water City. He would rather see it burn. Those were Hector King’s thoughts as he walked to the Oblivion Gate. The Oblivion Gate was one of four. The Gates stood side by side, like giants. The Gates had been erected two hundred years ago by Broken Shadows’ ancestors and were over three hundred feet tall. The Gates were made of Anamantium, a virtually indestructible metal. And Broken Shadows thought that since her ancestors had built the Gates, that she was supposed to rule over them all. She would not.
The Gates loomed over him, almost as if they were staring at him with disappointment. Hector wanted to stick his tongue out at the smooth black metal that kept the barbaric people from storming the four islands. Hector thought that is was interesting that there were four Gates and four islands. Something to think about.
To the left of the Oblivion Gate was the mansion that housed the Grey. The Grey was an Order that patrolled the lands of Mania, Insanity, Dementia and Hysteria, the four territories in the Kingdom of Madness. The names were repetitive, but each was worse than the other. The Grey order took orphans and made them emotionless, fearless. They were emotionless for a reason. It was a necessity to carry out their jobs. The horrors they would see in the kingdom of Madness would drive them insane if not for their training.
Hector sighed as he grabbed the eight keys that hung around his neck and opened the padlocks. The locks were three times the size of his head and also made of Anamantium. He hefted the heavy log that served as a bar on the bottom of the two doors. By time Hector lifted the other three, he was sweating all over. The top beam and middle beams were the easiest by far. They had latches that lifted it and put it back in place.
Why did Broken Shadows have to lock the doors so tight? He had dismissed the Grey eight months ago, so there was no need to worry about their inferior general trying to stop him. Hector stopped for a minute and took inventory of himself. He wanted the Mad King to think that he had servants who had opened the door for him.
Hector had shoulder length blonde hair that he wore slicked back. His eyes were a light blue, his skin pale and soft. He wore a black turtleneck, black slacks, dress shoes and a white winter weight fur coat, fit for the king he should have been. He put the pocket mirror back into one of his pockets and pulled the doors open.
They were so heavy, five feet thick and were poured cement. Over the cement was another two feet of granite. And over that was the Anamantium. The doors were twenty feet tall and weighted almost three tons.
The door was only eight years old. The Mad King’s warriors had broken through the old door when they found out a little girl had been proclaimed Gym leader. She had installed the doors and gave the Grey better weapons since the Mist warriors kept killing them. For that, they were loyal to her.
He walked through the door and let them slam shut behind him. The Mad King was waiting with his personal guard. Hector fell to his knees and asked the king to pledge his army to him so he could rule Black Water. In return, the Mad King would rule the three other islands. And eventually, all the world.
My heart was pounding. My Pokemon, all their courage spent, were freaking out. Talon looked up to me with fear for me in his normally calm dark green eyes. I fell to my knees and held on to him for support. Talon was the calm one out of all my Pokemon and his steady strength was what I needed right now. Chills of fright were working their way up and down my spine, eating away the common sense that was telling me to get out of the forest.
I buried my face in his snowy white fur and took deep breaths until I could stand without falling. I smiled at my Absol. Talon was gorgeous. He had thick white fur, three wickedly curved claws on each foot and one on his haunches. Talon’s face was black with a small red dot in the middle of his forehead. His most beautiful, distinguishing feature was a crescent shaped horn that jutted out the side of his head. A thick patch of white fur covered the corner of one dark green eye.
Mischief and Titan were still running around, screaming. I scooped up Titan, my Larvitar, and tried to grab Mischief. He stopped running and stood still. Mischief’s small cream colored body was illuminated by the shining moon. His flame flickered blue and he turned and stared at me with large green eyes.
Mischief started to shine bright white, the light enveloping him and making me, Titan and Talon shield our eyes. When the light died down, my Litwick was gone. In his place was a Lampent. Mischief had evolved. He was a mixture of cream and a very pale purple. Mischief had a light purple strip down his body. His eyes glimmered the same green. A black dome-like hat sat on his head. He now had black arms, but no hands and fingers.
Titan was wiggling in my arms and I let him drop to the ground. He ran over to Mischief and stared at him in sadness. He wanted to know what had happened to his friend. Poor guy. He looked so adorable.
What contrast they made together. Titan was green with a red belly. His eyes were gold and two black stripes slashed through his eyes, bringing more attention to them. Titan also had four diamond-shaped spots on either sides of his belly and stubby tail.
They started chattering together, Mischief explaining what had happened. Titan looked like he just lost his best friend. He kept looking at me with confusion his gold eyes. I reached into one of the hidden pockets in my red dress and returned them to their Poke Balls. Then, with thoughts of the creepy man tumbling through my mind, I walked back to the Legionnaire Mansion.
Fen was pacing in his room, waiting for Dark. He ran his hands through his hair and stormed into the bathroom. Fen caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. He looked a fright. Fen’s long white hair was tangled from running his hands through it. There was a wild look in his gray eyes and his normally pale skin was flushed red with anger and concern. The door opened and he stormed over to her. There was a bunch of emotions swirling in her dark brown eyes. Fen wanted to scream at Dark for leaving without someone to walk with, but he could see that she was troubled.
“Where have you been?” Fen banished the anger from his voice and made it soft.
“In the forest, walking.” Dark’s voice sounded hollow, like a shell of what it had been. “Mischief evolved. I’m so tired.” The last words she spoke were soft, as if she was talking to herself.
“Come on. You need to sleep.” He took her hand and led her to the bed. She was still wearing her red party dress, but he didn’t want to undress her. It would be too embarrassing for him. His brother would tease him for years. Fen pulled the covers up to Dark’s chin and sat beside her on the bed. He watched her clasp her hands and mouth the words to the prayer she said every night before she slept.
Fen sighed and brushed a hand over her soft dark brown hair. She had pulled the front of it back and clipped it in place. Dark’s skin was a mixture of white and gold, like when she was in her mother’s womb, she couldn’t make up her mind about what color she wanted her skin to be. She had a small nose and a plump mouth that was slightly parted. She was too sweet to roam the forest at night. Fen knew that she could fight well, but what if it had been a group of men? What would Dark have done then?
As he thought more about Dark’s entrance into his room, Fen just didn’t get it. It was like she was in shock. Whatever Dark seen in that forest had stripped her of her emotions for now. When she got them back, she would be mad. At least, that was what he was guessing. Her emotions were jumbled, like every teen’s. Fen sighed and settled himself into the pallet on the floor that he slept in since Dark took over his bed. Quietly, he waited for sleep to come.
I woke up with a jolt. I realized there was a Pidgey in Fen’s room. The Pokemon was brown with a cream colored belly and face. There were brown and light yellow feathers slicked back on it’s head. It held out a foot and I saw there was a small rolled up piece of paper attached to it by a strip of leather. I carefully took the paper and it flew out a open window.
I walked over and closed the window. My thoughts strayed to what happened in the forest. As if a fire was lit inside me, I was suddenly mad. I wasn’t about to die because a creepy guy who looked was all limbs said I was. How dare he. I needed to suck it up and not worry. And give myself more mental pep talks.
I looked down at the piece of rolled up paper. It was actually bigger than I had thought. It was sealed with red wax. Someone had pressed their signet ring into the wax to show that they were a House of importance. The image was a man holding a ax over another man’s head, about to bring it down and end his life. It was so crude, it could only belong to two people. Hector or the Mad King. Under the signet was my full name so I wouldn’t mistake it for someone else. ‘Broken Shadows Phoenix’ was printed in neat handwriting. Not Hector’s handwriting, though. His was sloppy.
I unrolled the paper and scanned the note. It read:
Dear Miss Phoenix,
I understand you are called Dark, Shadow and Shade by the people near you. I feel as if we know each other and I would like to call you one of the previous names stated. You may call me Damon or the Mad King, either is fine. I would like to see you because I have urgent matters to discuss with you. It’s about the man called Hector, who thinks he leads your people.
I acknowledge you as the leader and I have respect for you, which is why I’m writing to you. Hector had petitioned me for something you might find interesting. He has left the Oblivion Gate unlocked. I haven’t authorized my warriors to go through because I believe that you should at least have a warning before my army crushes yours. I shall be waiting and I would greatly appreciate it if you can come tonight so I can meet you in person.
Sincerely, Damon Knight,
the Mad King of Mania, Dementia, Insanity, Hysteria and all other lands in the Kingdom of Madness.
It sounded like he was declaring war. Hector was tied into this somehow and I had to find out why. I traded in my dress for a pair of blue jeans, a brown tank top, a brown leather jacket, and a pair of brown boots. I strapped on my thigh holsters and slid my pistols in them. The pistols were black and took thirty caliber bullets. They packed a punch and were hollow tipped. I grabbed my Poke Balls after a quick thought.
I ran a brush through my now tangled hair and walked out the Mansion. I took the stairs two at a time and walked out the marble lobby. I went left and borrowed a motorcycle. Quickly, I typed my exit code into the keypad and waved to the guy with glasses in the guard booth. I swung a leg over the sleek black motorcycle and turned the key in the engine. It started with a low rumble and I revved the engine to get in humming. With a smile, I accelerated and drove down the path that wound throughout the forest.
Damon was excited. He was going to meet Broken Shadows and meet in battle. Their war would be known through out the world and history. Damon would take back the island that they called Rhaeger, where the city Black Water was. His family would be proud of him for reclaiming Delirium and rebuilding the glorious city of Lunacy. This was his time for glory. Startled, Damon stumbled back. He had been in this place for so long, those thoughts we starting to become his own.
When I reached the Oblivion Gate it was unlocked. With all my strength, I pushed the heavy doors open and walked into the kingdom of Madness. I stood and tried to recalled all that I knew about the kingdom of Madness. It wasn’t much, but at least I had a bit of information. I shifted from foot to foot, waiting for the Mad King.
I could barely see what was in front of me. Mist covered the rolling grasslands and hid the sky. I heard them before I saw them. A group of men were escorting the Mad King. They were all taller than me and they didn’t look very happy. Their skin ranged from pale to dark and they wore red coats over black pants.
One stood out, though. I had never seen the Mad King before since nobody ever ventured into the land of Madness to take a picture. He was shorter than the others, with straight black hair, a thin face and exotically slanted blue eyes. The Mad King’s skin was translucent, as if as if it was made of paper. I doubted that he’d ever had a tan. And he probably hadn’t, with all this mist.
“I’m so glad that you made it.” The King’s voice was warm with a hint of glee. He didn’t sound insane at all. “I was afraid that you wouldn’t come.”
“You’ve intrigued me.” I swept my gaze from side to side, making sure that it was only us and his guards.
“You’re cautious of my guards!” He sounded thrilled and even clapped his hands. “Oh, I suppose you’re right to fear them.” The Mad King waved a thin hand and the men literally melted into the mist.
“Are those are your Mist Warriors, your Majesty?”
“Oh, please, call me Damon. And may I call you Shadow?”
Totally avoiding my question, he went on. “The reason I called you here, Shadow, is because your Hector has asked me to pledge my army to him so he may hold on to his control of your city. In return, I would rule the other islands.”
“Why are you telling me this? Don’t you want the other islands?” Worming information from your enemies was a old trick and it never failed, Everyone wanted to brag about what they’d done and what they were going to do.
“No. You see, Shadow, your ancestors stole the island Rhaeger from us. We want nothing but that and to roam the lands of the free world again.”
“And if I say no?”
“No?” Damon smiled at his hands. Faster than my eyes could see, he was in front of me, his hands clutching my shoulders, fingers digging into my skin.
“No.” I said it slowly so he would get an idea of what I was saying.
“Then I understand.” Damon released me and smoothed the creases his fingers had made in my jacket. “But either way, I want a war. And a war is what I will have.”
“Is this a declaration?”
“Yes. Now, go get some sleep, assemble your troops and kick Hector out of your throne room. Then, we shall meet in battle. Oh, the glorious flames will scream my name. They will leave my mark on you and yours.”
I was wrong. Damon was insane. Damon’s personal guard returned from the mist and one handed him a burlap sack.
“Oh, yes. A gift.” He held the sack out to me. With caution, I accepted the sack. I tucked the extra fabric into my jacket pocket. Damon smiled and waved before retreating to the mist. I walked back to the Gate and pushed the doors open. The padlocks to lock the doors were lying in a heap of chains. I dropped to my haunches and picked them up. It was such fine metal and Hector had treated it badly.
With some difficulty, I settled the heavy wooden beams in place at the bottom, middle and top of the Gate. After that was done, I put the locks in place and returned to the black motorcycle I had borrowed. The engine caught with a low purr and I started the long trip back to the Legionnaire Mansion.
When Fen woke up, the sun was high in the sky. The black curtains that covered his balcony doors and windows kept some of the light out, but there was just enough to fall over Fen’s face and stir him from his sleep.
Fen dressed in the bathroom. Some how, it looked weird. Virtually, the bathroom was still the same. Black tile floor, white walls. The toilet and sink were still the same. The shower still had the same gold tile. Curious, Fen walked back into the main room to see if it, too, had changed somehow.
Black and white walls, black carpet, big bed near the door, Fen’s desk and TV were still pushed against the walls. The ebony cupboard that he kept his swords in hadn’t been moved. What was it? Fen wondered as he took the stairs down to the door that lead to the west wing, the dorms, were. He walked through the door and into the waiting room to Chief’s office. The carpet was plain brown, the walls were a light blue. There was a large oak desk that sat in front of the door to Chief’s office. There were a few couches and another door that led to the east wing, where the kitchen, mess hall and armory.
Fen opened the door and walked down the light filled hallway to the kitchen for something to eat. As Fen neared, he smelled something baking. Fen opened the the door and saw Dark standing by a mixer. She looked at home in the yellow room. Ovens were stacked on top of each other and took up one wall. On the other walls next to the ovens was a industry sized metal sink. There was a walk-in refrigerator and freezer.
The kitchen didn’t look like this last night. What had Chief done, some remodeling? As Dark waited for the mixer to get done, she kept looking over her shoulder. She looked alert, as if something was about to pop out the shadows and steal her away. He waved to Talon, Titan and Mischief, who were playing in a corner, with a bag of flour.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“What are you making?” Fen stretched and yawned.
“The last batch of frosting for the cupcakes.” Fen stood up straighter. He watched as Dark deftly dumped some of the brown frosting into a piping bag and frosted the cupcakes. Dozens of apprentices he had seen at combat practice picked up the large trays of cupcakes and carried them to the mess hall, which was through a door to the left.
The mess hall was filled with tables and people. The walls were the same yellow as the kitchen and there were plenty of tall windows. The apprentices set the cupcakes on the long tables that the chefs used to serve food. He was surprised when Dark started speaking.
“Hi. Um. . . The cupcakes come with a price. I need all of your guys’ help. Hector has done something that cannot be reversed. In order to survive this crisis, he needs to go. So, I guess what I’m asking is. . . Will you help me kick Hector out of my Gym?” It was short, sweet and to the point. Fen couldn’t have done better.
Silence. It was Dark’s cousin, Braiden, who spoke up.
“What did he do?”
“He,” she took a deep breath. “Started a war with the Mad King.”
Eyes all around the room widened. Fen stood.
“I’ll go.” Slowly, all the others in the room spoke up. Dark had all the Legionnaires on her side.
“Eat your cupcakes first. They’re lemon-cherry chocolate. Then, we march.”
Of course, the marching was a figure of speech. They would drive. The cupcakes were gone in a petty half an hour. And Fen only got four out of the thirty thousand they had made. Boy, were they delicious. She had baked the lemon cupcake and scooped out some of the middle. In the middle was cherry filling, like in pies, then they were frosted with the chocolate. Fen had wanted more, but they were gone instantly.
Dark was pacing the mess hall. She looked mad now. Guess he was right. The black long sleeved shirt, black tights and black boots she wore suited her mood. Her dark brown hair was in it’s usual braid. She seemed so troubled, it was bothering him. He could see Dark had was holding two Poke Balls.
A man with white hair walked up to her and smiled. Fen looked at him closer. It couldn’t be. . . He had given him strict instructions to stay away from Dark.
I was still pacing when a man with white hair and the most pure green eyes I’d ever seen walked up. He bore a startling resemblance to Fen. They each had white hair, only Fen’s was pure white and this man had a silver sheen to his. Fen’s eyes were dark gray with swirling shades of blue, where the man’s were green like new leaves. He was also taller by a couple inches. He wore a black T-shirt, blue jeans and black boots.
“So. You’re Broken Shadows?” His ran his gaze along my body, judging me.
“Yes. Do you have a problem?” Jeez, I sounded harsher than I meant to.
“No. Somehow, I thought you would be taller since you scare my brother. I find that very funny, by the way.”
“I scare a lot of people. You’ll have to specify.” I graced him with a wry smile.
“Yep, you’re her. He said you were sarcastic. Walk with me?”
“Why not?” I shrugged and started after him. “So, who’s your brother?”
“Fen. He’s my younger brother.”
“What?” I stopped walking. “You’re telling me that Fen is younger than you? But, he’s like thirty!” Now it was the man’s turn to stop walking. He stared at me like I had sprouted a third eye.
“You think my brother is thirty? Pixie stix, he’s the same age as me. Sixteen. We’re twins. Of course, I’m the older twin.”
“That can’t be possible. And don’t call me pixie stix.” I shook my head in denial.
“Sister, you’re funny. I’m Dante, by the way.” He smiled and walked away after he’d just asked me if I wanted to walk with him. He was Fen’s sibling, all right. They were a weird family.
I just shrugged and looked down at the Poke Balls I had forgotten I was holding. Sighing, I pressed the button in the middle and released the Pokemon. It was a Aron and Axew. The Aron was small and black. A large, silver metal plate covered his face save the eyes. Aron’s eyes were a shocking shade of blue. He had short legs and a stubby tail. I loved him instantly.
Axew was green with a stripe of darker green on his head. Two sharp fangs protruded from the bottom of his mouth. He had a tail that was neither long nor short and he had big gold eyes.
“Great. More Pokemon to add to your circus.”
“How dare you! They are so cute. Axew will be Ares and Aron will be Iron Hide.” They cocked their heads at me and Axew looked away. I got the impression that he wasn’t very social. I whistled sharply. Titan, Talon and Mischief came running from the kitchen. Iron Hide and Ares, not sure what was happening, followed the others. I navigated the long halls and various doors until I arrived at Fen’s room. I opened the door and a second trunk was next to my first, which was resting against the end of Fen’s bed. I was guessing that Val had dropped it off from my old apartment. I opened the trunk and peeled back the brown velvet.
My armor was on the top. I ran a hand lovingly over the shinning metal. It was made of a rare form of Anamantium, which was a metal harder that iron and was pitch black, so when the sun hit it, it shone with a blue sheen. It was still black, though. If it was cold, the sheen turned to red. I pulled the pieces out and peeled off my clothes. I pulled on the black leather pants and short top. I added the knee length black leather boots and tucked the ends of the pants into them.
After I was dressed, I settled the shoulder piece on my right arm. It covered my shoulder and had three spikes. I made sure it was strapped snugly and pulled on my gauntlets. After the gauntlets went my greaves. They strapped around my calf and protected my shin. I held on a curved piece of metal that would my arm muscles and fastened it. On went my elbow guards. They had each had a spike. The ones for my knee guards were slightly rounded instead of flat so I could bend my knee. I turned back to the trunk and saw Fen leaning against the door frame, watching me.
Damn. Fen had just gotten into his room and saw Dark putting on her armor. She turned and looked at him. He didn’t see the usual glimmer of joy in her eyes. Instead, her face was emotionless, her mouth pursed. She looked like the fierce Gym leader he knew she would be. Her Pokemon were sitting on the bed, enraptured by their master.
“I need help. Take those two pieces that are curved and hold into my back and stomach, please.”
Fen did as he was told and watched Dark pull the straps over her shoulders and connect them to the plates, like a back pack. She fastened more straps under her breasts to keep the plates on. Dark pulled a dark blue sash out the second trunk and tied it around her waist, letting the ends fall down her side.
She turned and looked him dead in the eyes. Fen could see that there were swirls and other images engraved in the armor. He could also see that it wasn’t ceremonial. There were nicks and cuts in the shoulder and back plate, even the greaves. Dark was going to fight. She dug around in her second trunk and pulled out two daggers. They were jagged, like lightning and had cobalt blue dragons etched into them. Dark turned them in her hands and Fen saw that they were paper thin. Dark sheathed them and pulled on the holster. It was like her back plate, they wrapped around her shoulder and fastened under her breasts.
“You mind? I have to suit up.”
Dark nodded and left Fen to his task. It wasn’t until she was gone that Fen realized he’d been staring.
I had no idea how long he’d been standing there. What had he seen? To calm myself, I took a few deep breaths and smiled at my Pokemon. Mischief, Titan, Talon and Iron Hide returned the gesture. Ares just scoffed and crossed his arms. I dropped to my haunches and smiled him. Ares turned away.
“So. Do you have a harsh nature or are you just stubborn?” No answer. I straightened and walked to the armory, which was clear on the other side of the Mansion. When I reached it, I was impressed with what I saw. It was a huge gray room. The floors were scuffed and wooden and weapons of all kinds mounted on the walls and in glass cabinets. There were so many people, at least four thousand, all putting on their armor and scrambling for their weapons of choice.
I heard a phone ring behind me and turned around. Fen was standing there, talking on his phone. He wore a cuirass, which was a breastplate and black plate that were fastened together. It was fitted like shirt. A shirt with carving of angels and demons fighting. Fen’s armor also included greaves and a shoulder plate. Fen pulled a sword off the wall. The sword was taller than me by, at my guess, a foot. It was double edged, one smooth, the other serrated. The sword had words carved in it, that ran up the length of the sword. I read them, I realized they were the words to a song I sang to relax me when I thought Fen was asleep and couldn’t hear me.
“You snake! You were listening to me sing when I thought you were sleeping!” I placed my fists on my hips so I wouldn’t hit Fen.
“That’s what you get for thinking. And you should have asked if I was sleeping.”
“Why?” I wailed as I buried my face in my hands. I peeked through my hands at my Pokemon. They were so cute. Titan, Mischief and Iron Hide were clutching my legs, afraid of all the people. Ares was holding on to Talon, who was just staring at him, as if he could will Ares to get off of him.
“You have a lovely voice and I like hearing it. By the way, Hector has just ordered all his men all over Black Water to your castle. He’s holed up.”
“Great, pep rally time.” Fen nodded and picked me up by my waist. He set me on a chest that was five feet tall. Who has a chest that is five feet tall? I waved my hands for attention. When that didn’t work, I cupped my hands around my mouth and shouted for silence. All the noise ceased and all eyes were now on me. Fen finished lifting my Pokemon up next to me and flashed me a thumbs-up. Very reassuring.
“I’m not good at pep talks, but you should all know that Hector has ordered more men to him. Don’t be scared. Each and everyone of us has to be able to trust the person on their left, as well as their right, to watch their back. I don’t want any deaths, on our side and theirs. Nobody dies. Disable them so they can’t fight and that’s it. No more, no less.” I paused and rubbed my temple.
“I’d be lying if I told you everyone will come out unscathed. This isn’t my first battle. I’ve been in at least five before this but I’ve never led the armies. So, I’m asking you to trust me. As your Gym leader, as your general. As your friend, even. Do you think we can manage that? Or do I have to make you fear me?” I smiled. Shouts filled the room and Fen held his arms out. It was lame, but it eased the mood.
I stepped off the chest and into Fen’s waiting embrace. Without any strain on his muscles, he set me on the floor. Impressive. My Pokemon jumped down and hugged me happily. Ares was standing a few inches away. Titan frowned, then pulled him into our group hug.
“Let’s move out!” Came the rallying call from Val.
Fen was thorough impressed with Dark’s speaking. She had whipped them all into shape. All the Legionnaires had piled into military trucks and were now standing in front of the gate that guarded Dark’s castle. Man, it was something else. It was huge, with turret, towers and spires. It was made of ancient gray stone and had a drawbridge and a portcullis. The strangest thing, though, was the fact that there were so many windows and yet, the castle was dark, like there was a blanket thrown over it. The gate was iron and twenty feet tall. There was also a cement wall with glass embedded in the top. He knew this because Dark had told him on the way. I helped that she was the one who had it built.
“Hector! Come out right now! We have some unfinished business!” Dark yelled. Fen could see the silhouette of a person walking toward them. It was a old man in a tux. He had thinning white hair, paper-like skin, and was shrunken.
“The master says ‘go away’.” The old man delivered his message and hastily walked away, as if the army scared him. Fen mentally smiled as he realized what he was saying. Of course the army scared him.
“Okay.” She smirked. She walked straight up to the gate and typed in a code. The gates swung open and Dark turned the smirk on to him.
“Am I good? I’m good.” Dark flashed the waiting men and women a smile before entering. She strolled onto the lawn like she owned it, which she did.
“How’d you bypass it?” Fen asked, curious.
“Hector never changed the code. His light bulb doesn’t shine the brightest.” They saw the door to castle opened and armed men flood out.
“Oh, this is going to be fun!” Dark smiled down at her Pokemon who were chattering. Titan and Mischief were back to being best friends after the shock of Mischief evolving. Titan was pulling out blades of grass, which was sending Mischief into a laughing fight. Talon was laying a few feet away, just watching with calm eyes. Ares was pouting and Iron Hide was staring at everything in awe. Dark drew her daggers as the men drew near.
“Like them?” She asked Fen. “Their names are Shock and Awe.” Dark flashed him a quick smile before running to meet the enemy in battle. Fen gave a quick shout and started after her, the whole Legionnaire army on his heels. They had twenty thousand or so. But would it be enough?
He saw Dark up ahead. She dropped to her knees, avoiding what would have been a devastating blow from a hammer. She slid her daggers along the tendons in the back of the man’s knee and rolled, pushing to her feet the second they touched the ground. The battle was on.
I was in the thick of the battle, surrounded by the enemy. Even the slightest movement cut someone. I ducked under a sword and delivered a punishing upper cut to the man’s chin. He fell against two other men, unconscious. What a weak jaw. I kicked, hitting someone in the gut. I felt metal hit my back plate and spun, bringing my daggers down, slicing a man’s chest. I took pity on a girl and punched her. As she went down, she grabbed my braid.
A cry of pain escaped before I could hold it back and I stabbed her in the thigh. I was grabbed from behind around the throat. Taking a deep breath, I swung my legs up and locked them around the man’s neck. I pushed against his stomach with my hands and head and pulled down with my legs, flipping the man. Stunned from the fall, I could see my Pokemon tackling people and using their moves. Talon used Bite and sunk his teeth into a arm. The scream echoed across the field.
Miraculously, the man had flipped over me and was now lying on his back. He was supposed to land on me, but God was on my side, thank heavens. I would have been squished beyond belief. I pulled to my feet by Fen, who was wielding his huge sword like it was a twig. I swept my leg up in a high arc and my toe connected with a girl’s temple. Daggers flashing, I fought my way to three apprentices, who were surrounded. I sheathed my daggers quickly. Fen saw and made his way towards me.
Fen picked me up and threw me. Not what I had in mind, I thought as I flew through the air, arms outstretched. I tackled the first three guys and kicked another in the knee when I rolled. One of the apprentices, a baby faced kid with flaming red hair, took the opportunity to run his blade across the man’s sword arm. I clothes-lined a running man and kicked him in the kidney. I caught another guy in the throat with a sucker punch and sent him to the ground with a spinning kick. Mischief had used Confuse Ray on a number of people. Iron Hide was Headbutting people left and right, and even Ares was helping out by watching their backs.
Dark just kept going. She had sheathed her daggers and was fighting hand to hand with some girl who knew karate. Dark kicked her in the chest and slammed her fist into the other’s girl’s face. Across the lawn, Chief slapped the last guy and kicked him between the legs. It was a dirty move, but effective.
“To the castle!” Dark pulled out a dagger and pointed it at the castle. “Move out, move fast!” She resheathed the dagger and took off. Man, she could run like the wind. Dark easily outpaced them all and dashed up the steps to the castle. The door was unlocked, the castle empty. Fen didn’t get a good look at the interior, just that it was dark and there was some pricey stuff in there. Dark was still running up the stairs. Fen took a deep breath, somehow knowing he’d need it, and ran after her. She pushed open a door and Fen realized it was a ballroom. Dark’s Pokemon climbed the last of the stairs, their breath coming out in little gasps. All of them except Talon, of course.
He nudged them out of the way of the stairs, so they wouldn’t get trampled. Then, he laid down, curling his long body around the exhausted Pokemon. Fen’s attention was drawn to the ballroom again. The floor was gold marble, white walls with gold trim and huge windows. Three crystal chandeliers hung in rows in the room. Hector stood in the middle, wearing only jeans and tennis shoes. He turned, smiled at Dark. She glared at him.
“You want to take what is rightfully mine, you’ll have to fight me for it. Hand to hand and none of that fancy armor.” Hector gestured to Dark’s attire, if you could call it that.
“Not a good idea, Hector. I taught you everything you know. Or do you not remember?” Dark smirked.
“I’ve learned a few new tricks.” Hector shot back.
“As have I. Fen, will you help me, please?” Her words were kind, but there was steel in her voice. Fen stepped over and helped loosen her weapons. He set them on the ground and quickly added the back plate, the half plate that protected her middle and sash to it. Dark worked on the greaves while Fen tackled the shoulder guard. The pieces of armor were added to the growing pile. She slid off the elbow guards off and discarded the knee guards.
All that was left were the black leather pants and leather top. The top sort of looked like a corset. It stopped a couple inches above her belly button, had a V neck and short sleeves. The top stretched across her chest and squished her breasts flat and pushed the together. There were strips of leather that attached the top to the pants. Dark took a minute to rebraid her hair since it was falling in her face. She turned and smiled at Fen
“Thank you.” Dark stood on her tip toes and cupped his face. She pressed her lips to his forehead and brushed a stray lock of hair out of his eyes.
“Be careful. I don’t want you to tear your stitches.”
“Oh, yeah. I always forget about them. I’ll be okay.”
Dark stepped into the middle of the room with Hector. He took the first swing, catching her off guard and hitting her in the stomach. Dark doubled over and coughed. Hector sauntered closer and she surged up, startling him. She drew back her arm and hit him square in the eye. Dark kicked her leg up and popped him in the chin. Hector fell to the ground, in front of her.
Hector wrapped his arms around Dark’s legs and pulled. She came crashing to the ground with a sickening thud. Her Pokemon came running, afraid for their master. Mischief, Iron Hide and Titan were staring in horror at her on the ground. Talon took a step forward to help and Fen pinned him with a stare. Even Ares looked a bit worried.
Hector had Dark pinned and was punching her in the stomach. Fen could see that she was clenching the muscles to take away some of the pain. She rolled, surprising Hector and threw him off. She didn’t have time to stand. Dark got to her hands and knees and crawled a few inches away. Hector grabbed a foot. She wretched her foot out his grasp and kicked him in the head. Dark stood and jumped, landing on Hector’s stomach. Talon, Titan, Iron Hide and Mischief all winced. Even Ares looked like he pitied Hector at that moment.
Hector’s breath went out of him with an ‘oomph’. Dark straddled him and rolled backwards. She released him from her grasp as she rolled on her back and the momentum from the sudden movement sent him flying. Hector crashed in a heap of limbs. Dark turned and stretched, popping the bones in her back. Hector bull rushed her. Dark stepped to the side and kicked him in the butt as he rushed pass, giving him extra speed. Hector fell again.
He slid on the marble and swept Dark’s legs out from underneath her. A small shriek escaped as she hit the ground. Again, the Pokemon winced. This time not for Hector, but for Dark. Hector wrapped one arm around her, pinning Dark’s arms to her sides and grabbed her braid, twining it around his hand. Hector yanked Dark’s head back viscously and lowered his mouth to her ear.
“Keep you nose out of my business, little girl. And to think, I would have married you. I would have only to claim the Gym, of course, but you should be flattered I even thought about you. I’ll get the Gym anyway.”
Fen was barely able to hear because Mischief, Titan and Iron Hide were screaming so loudly. Talon gave a sharp bark. Ares was transfixed by the sight of them.
“No. . . You . . . Won’t! I won’t allow it!” Dark broke his embrace and threw Hector off of her. Hector started to fall backwards. She turned and grabbed a hand full of his slick blonde hair to pull him forward. Dark drew back her arm and punched Hector, putting all her strength in it. Fen had a view from the side and watched in horror, and a bit of amazement, as Hector’s nose crumpled under her fist. Blood splurted from Hector’s nose as Dark’s fist stopped grinding in. She punched him again, this one landing Hector one hell of a shiner in the morning.
Dark wrapped her hands around Hector’s neck and began beating his head into the ground. Fen ran to grab her. Dark’s Pokemon’s cries turned into shouts of encouragement. The bloodthirsty beasts were jumping up and down, while Talon buried his face in the ground. Fen heard footsteps and Chief burst in. Chief pried Dark of with Fen’s help. She lunged at Hector again, a wild look in her eyes. Her Pokemon ran out the room, scared beyond their wildest imaginations.
“Just die already!” Dark shouted at Hector, who was out cold, thankfully. This would have made him pee himself. Val took Dark from Fen. He walked over to take inventory of what Dark had done. Hector’s nose looked like a deflated balloon and had the makings of two black eyes. Hector was missing a bunch of hair and his lip was split. On top of that, he had assorted bruises on his body and two big ones that looked, strangely enough, like footprints.
After the fight with Hector, I fell asleep. I had woken up a few times to know that Val had carried me out to the trucks and Fen had my Pokemon. As I stirred from my slumber, I realized that I hurt. A lot. My scalp hurt, there were sharp pains in my stomach and my muscles ached deeply. I opened my eyes and realized I wasn’t in Fen’s room. Speaking of Fen, he was standing over me, watching me with eyes that were clouded with worry.
“Don’t try to sit up.”
“Shower. Coffee. Medicine.” I moaned. “Where are my Pokemon?”
“Plotting our inevitable demise under the bed.”
“Where am I?”
“This,” Fen gestured to the space. “Is your room. Take a look.”
It was exactly how I asked Val to make it. Light green walls with dark brown trim. There were filmy white curtains on the doors that led to the balcony and on the windows. I had a entertainment center with a TV, my Xbox and games like Fen did and a green couch. My desk was smaller and more feminine. There was a matching chair with a huge cushion. My bed was big and soft. There was a brown blanket with brown pillows and light green heavy curtains. There was also mosquito net, because I had a thing about bugs crawling over me while I slept.
I swung my legs out of the bed and stood. Well, tried to. I swayed and Fen practically dove to catch me before I fell. It was only then when I realized there were bunches of colorful flowers. There were literally baskets of them.
“Who are these from?” I asked in amazement.
“Everyone. Legionnaires and civilians. You’ve been out of it for two days, by the way.”
“Shower. Shower.” I stumbled to the bathroom. Fen made sure I could stand before closing the door. I stared at the bathroom. It was the same layout as Fen’s, only the walls were bright orange with white and the shower was in the middle. I turned the water on steaming and let it boil me. After half an hour, Fen knocked on the door and asked me if I was dead.
The door opened and he threw some clothes in. I dressed and combed my hair. I had to admit, I loved my room. Fen had grabbed me a matching set of blue underwear and bra. I blushed, realizing that he had pawed my underwear. Oh, the shame and embarrassment I felt right now. Fen had also given me a orange dress. It had short sleeves and a swingy skirt. It was a bit loose around the middle, but that was because I had lost some weight after the fight.
“Hey.” Fen was sitting on my bed, reading a book. “Some reporter wants to interview you. He’s in Chief’s waiting room.”
“Good. If he wants a interview, he can fed me.” Boy, I was so hungry. If I didn’t get food soon, I would be a goner.
Fen tossed a pair a orange flip flops to me and I stepped into them. I opened the door and was flattened by my Pokemon. I had one on each leg and arm and Talon was sitting on my chest. They all were showering me with kisses, even Ares. Well, I was guessing that the others promised to gang up on him if he didn’t. Either that, or he really did liked me and is just being stubborn about showing it. They all hopped off and Fen pulled me to my feet.
“You’ll have to be careful if they do that again. Men will look up your skirt.” Nice advice, eh? Only from a guy.
“They will do no such thing. And if they do, I’ll kick them in their twig and berries so hard, they’ll be giving themselves blow jobs.” Then, to my surprise, Fen started laughing. The door was still open so the people out in the hall were staring at Fen in wonder.
“What? I laugh! And that was perverted, watch your mouth.” He stared at the people in the hall until they started walking again. I never thought I would hear him laugh. Now, if he would only smile. . . I waved bye and me and my Pokemon all stomped through the hallway, down the stairs and into the waiting room to Val’s office. Someone was asleep on the brown couch.
It was a man with shaggy blonde hair. He was nice looking, had clear green eyes, tawny gold skin and was dressed in a white T-shirt with a green button-up thrown over that, blue jeans and black boots. I knew he had green eyes because he peeled them open and stared at me. The man fished around in a pocket and pulled out what appeared to be a crumpled picture. He looked at the picture, then at me. The man jumped to his feet, starling me and scaring Mischief, who ran for cover behind my legs.
“You’re Broken Shadows.”
“Brilliant deduction, Watson.” I rolled my eyes. “You’re the reporter. Mind if I see your ID?”
“Not at all.” Again, he fished in his pocket and this time came up with a brown leather wallet. He handed it to me. I opened it and scanned the piece of plastic. Justice Hart. Poor guy. His parents must have hated him. I glanced down at his age and nearly fell over. Sixteen? Boys these days looked older than they were actually were. Heaven help us all.
“So, Justice, you want to interview me, you have to feed me. I’m starving.”
“Fine.” He shrugged. Let’s go.”
Interesting. When his boss gave him the picture and job to interview Broken Shadows, Justice had expected her to be at least sixteen. The picture he’d been given was the most recent. She looked like she was twelve, truth be told, in person. Justice really wanted to ask how old she was, but thought it would be rude.
Broken Shadows was half in his car, buckling her Pokemon in. Why weren’t they in Poke Balls? It was like a circus was following her. The Pokemon were a interesting bunch. Her Larvitar and Litwick were best friends. Absol was the calmest, just observing everything around him and breaking up the fights like a older brother would.
The odd one was Axew. It appeared to want in on the fun, yet was stubborn and refused the invitations to join. Larvitar and Litwick gladly welcomed the Aron, which made the duo a trio. Justice had seen them together ten minutes and had summed them all up. He couldn’t get a reading on Broken Shadows though. She seemed on edge, very cautious, to him. She backed out of the car and straightened, flashing Justice a quick smile.
“Ready?” Justice opened the passenger door for her. Broken Shadows raised a eyebrow, but slipped into the car. Justice walked back around and climbed in.
“Where do you want to go? The Shining Moon?”
“You realize that I’m fourteen? And that the Shining Moon is a bar, right?” She smiled when she said it, as if it amused her. Justice blushed, embarrassed.
“Sorry, my boss didn’t tell me how old you were, just gave a me a picture. You’re much prettier in person, by the way.”
“Flattery won’t make me answer all your questions, Justice.” Was she always like this? Girl couldn’t take a honest compliment. All girls loved to be complimented on their beauty. Broken Shadows would be a tough one to date.
Justice was a very interesting reporter. He took no for a answer and never asked why I kicked Hector out. I would have to keep a eye on him. I had him drop me off at my castle. My Pokemon happily jumped out the car, eager to stretch their legs. Looming in front of me was my home. The turrets, towers and spires stood tall, almost touching the dark blue sky. The gray stone was warm from the sun, though it had gone down an hour ago, letting the chill dominate the air.
A woman with curly blonde hair was sitting on the steps. She looked old, yet I could tell she couldn’t be more than thirty. The woman had wrapped a thin shawl around her thin shoulders to shield herself from the wind. The woman looked broken to me, like a battered house about to be blown over.
“Miss Phoenix, please, help me. My daughter,” she started crying then, fat tears rolling down her pale cheeks. “My daughter was in a singing group. Kielle made head singer and died a week later. They say Kielle killed herself, that it was suicide. But she didn’t kill herself. I talked to her before she died. She was happy. Kielle was happy.”
Before I could answer, the woman shoved a stack of papers I hadn’t seen into my hands.
“Help us. If you value our lives like you claim, you’ll help us.” With that said, The woman wrapped her shawl around herself and fled into the night. I hoped she lived close, it wasn’t safe at night. I sighed and tucked the papers under a arm. My Pokemon bound up the steps and began howling at the door. Again, I sighed and moved to the door. I opened the door and my Pokemon stopped before setting one paw inside.
“What’s wrong, guys?” Even as I asked, I knew the answer. I couldn’t really explain. It was like there was something evil in the house. My spine tingling, I walked in. It was much stronger in the house. It was so strong, it nearly knocked me off my feet. Footsteps sounded from around the corner and my heart sped up. Fen’s head popped around the corner.
“You coming in? You’re letting all the heat out. It freezing in here and it took me forever to get the furnace working.” I nodded at Talon, who pushed the door closed with his nose. We walked to where Fen was. The main room was dark, so I couldn’t see. Fen was in the library, studying maps of Rhaeger. He looked up at me.
“What’s wrong with you?” He asked.
“You don’t feel it?”
How could he not feel it? It was like the I was chained to the bottom of the sea, the weight of the water crushing down on me. It was impossible to ignore. Even my Pokemon were looking left and right, trying to find the source of the evil that was in my castle. It was unseen, but I could sense it. I always had been able to. I often woke up in the middle of the night, because there was something other than me, Fen and my Pokemon in the room.
“Please, don’t strain your brain on my account. Want to help me?”
Fen nodded and scooted his chair closer to mine. Trying to close out the presence, I looked around the familiar sights of the library. There were bookshelves that went all the way to the ceiling. They all were filled with books of every kind, every size and every color. Mom loved to read, I remember Deathius telling me that was the reason why we had so many books. There were blue couches spread out for long hours of reading. For when we studied, there were tables and chairs in the middle of the large room. A giant crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling, illuminating the room.
“What’s this girl’s name? Kill?”
“I told you not to strain your brain, Fen.” I laughed harder when he hit me lightly on the head. “It’s pronounced like the name ‘Kyle’.”
“Bet you feel stupid right about now.” I smiled.
“All right,” Fen slammed a hand on the desk. “What the hell is wrong with you? You’ve been acting like a pig ever since you got here. What the hell is wrong with you?” He repeated.
“I’m sorry, I get this way when I’m PMSing. I can be harsh, sometimes. It’ll be over in a week a or so.”
“I don’t know if I can last that long.” Fen turned back to the papers and began reading. I started reading as well. The papers were very interesting. It was a diary, I realized. I snatched the papers from Fen.
“What the hell was that for? This PMS is getting on my nerve.”
“It’s a diary and boys are forbidden to read girls’ diaries. Here,” I handed him different papers. “Read these.”
He was still mad, I could tell. I felt something brush against my foot and looked under the table. Talon, Titan, Mischief, Iron Hide and Ares were huddled together underneath it. I gave each a pat on the head to reassure them and went back to the task at hand. Fen slid a piece of paper over to me and I picked it up. On it was written something that I knew. I had the picture of sand with the words hanging in this very castle. It was called Footprints and I used to read it over and over again when I was a child.
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed that he was walking on the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life, for each scene, he noticed two prints of footprints in the sand. One belonged to him and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was one set footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it. “Lord, You said that once I decided to follow you, You’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”
The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child, I love you and would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
“Goobies, I love that.”
“W-why do you say ‘goobies’ all the time? Seriously?” Fen sounded frustrated, hence the stutter.
“It’s better than taking the Lord’s name in vain.” I shot back.
“Fine. Whatever. Let’s get back to work.”
As I read Kielle’s diary, I realized that she was a happy child. Her handwriting was loopy. Kielle liked to make little hearts and daisies all over her paper and always wrote in pink ink. The bright color was hurting my eyes, for crying out loud. Why did she have to pick pink? After a while, I stumbled across the part where she mentioned making head singer in her girl band. Kielle talked about weird mail and how she thought she was being followed. And a night in a alley. Kielle never went into detail about it, but I was guessing it was important. I had to find out what had happened to poor Kielle.
After that, she wrote how she’d be invited to Hector's house. After that, the diary entries stopped. All that was left were the lyrics to a song. I quietly sang the lyrics, trying to get a feel of how they would sound.
“After all the hard work is done, I’ll be at up at the top, number one. Listen to us, jealousy isn’t very becoming of me. How can we be so self-absorbed? There isn’t a word that we can say to make it okay. The harm we caused wasn’t very nice to the others. Can we only think about ourselves?”
After that first paragraph, I stopped. The rest of the lyrics were like that, all cryptic and pure nonsense. I searched some more and found a CD. I walked over to Fen’s back pack and bumped into Titan, who screamed, making the others howl in terror. I calmed them and grabbed Fen’s laptop. When I returned to the desk, my Pokemon we pressed against me, frightened. They scrambled under the table and huddled against Talon, who was sleeping with one eye open.
I smiled at the scene. Talon was so silly. He often left his mouth open when he slept so his tongue hung out the side. I sat down and popped the CD into Fen’s laptop. Immediately, a pop song began playing. I recognized the lyrics to the song that was in the diary paper.
“What is that? It’s catchy.” Fen asked.
“I don’t really know. The lyrics are a mess, though.” Fen nodded, listening intently. Why would Kielle write these lyrics when they made no sense? In her diary, she had written several songs down, all ones she had written herself.
“Maybe the lyrics were changed?” Fen said, jolting me out of my thoughts. It was a simple question, yet it was a answer to some complex questions. Like why would Kielle kill herself. From under the table, I heard whimpers. Finally giving up, I found the Poke Balls and returned my Pokemon to them. At least they would have peace in there.
I stood and began pacing to help me think. Why would Kielle kill herself if she was happy and going to be famous? If that song was sabotaged, there was bound to be a original copy, right? Of course, there would be. Kielle didn’t write those confusing lyrics, someone replaced certain words with the ones that were in the new song. But who? I ran back to the desk and started a fumbling search for that picture that had Kielle in it. I found it and studied it.
When I couldn’t sit any longer, I began pacing again. I didn’t even notice Fen get up and walk away. I was looking for a clue in the picture. Kielle had been so gorgeous. She had shoulder length black hair that was white on the top with more mixed in. It was common for people in Black Water to have white hair as well as black. In fact, we were called the black and white islands. Her eyes were a molten shade of brown and Kielle had a heart shaped mouth. Her skin was a few shades lighter than mine and he looked to be of average height in Black Water, which was five foot seven. We Rhaegerians were a tall bunch of people.
Kielle was standing in what looked to be a dinning room. Her notes said that Hector had invited her over to my castle for dinner. Maybe that was where this picture had been taken. It certainly looked like my dinning room. Same color of paint. Sometimes, you had to look for not what was there, but what wasn’t.
Kielle was in the picture and was standing with the table behind her. On the other side of the room, on the wall was supposed to be a painting of my parents. I walked into the dinning room, which was dark, and flipped on a light. It was a single light, but it was poised over where the picture was supposed to be, so I couldn’t see the rest of the dinning room. Where the picture had been. I grabbed my Poke Balls and released my Pokemon. They were still edgy, but I said a prayer to cleanse the house as long as I was in it.
My prayer was answered immediately. I could feel the darkness drawing back and moonlight started slanting in the house through the windows. The tension went out of my Pokemon and I could hear a crash from upstairs. Fen rushed by, caught sight of me standing in the dinning room and came back.
“What was that?”
“Some unwanted visitors leaving. I have a clue. Kielle was here.” I showed Fen the picture.
There had to be something. Her diary entries ended after her visit here. So, she dined and went home. Then, she supposedly killed herself. Where did she die? I ran back to the library, Fen and my Pokemon hot on my heels. I practically dived for the computer, typing in the address for the local paper. I scrolled through it until I found the headlines ‘fame killed the kid’. It had a picture of Kielle smiling at a water fountain at a park.
I felt Fen bend over me to read what had happened. I ignored the fact that he was so close and started to read as well. What I found next was so shocking, I fell out of my chair. I crashed flat on my back, stunned. Talon and Titan rushed to help me up, but Fen beat them to it. He bent and pulled me up.
“That was sudden.”
“Didn’t you read it? She died here, in the attic. Kielle drank acid.”
“Damn, I didn’t, I’m not that fast a reader. Sounds brutal. Why are we doing this anyway? It’s obvious she killed herself.”
“No, Kielle didn’t. Someone forced her to drink the acid, I know it. Come on.”
“Where are we going?” Fen asked, almost tripping over Ares and Titan, who were on the ground wrestling. It didn’t look like the wrestling that Titan and Mischief did for fun. It looked like they were trying to beat the snot out of each other. The two Pokemon were rolling around on the ground, muttering and groaning each time a blow was landed. I used a foot to pry them apart. Talon, Iron Hide and Mischief kept them apart. Intense dislike for the each other burned in Titan’s and Ares’ eyes. I snapped my finger to get their attention.
“That’s enough. You two know better than that. Why the hell are you two fighting?” My stern gaze was met with eyes full of shame from Titan and rebellion from Ares. “If you can’t get along without fighting, I will lock you two in a closet together until you can. As for punishment, no dessert for three days.” Titan’s jaw dropped and Ares swallowed back a complaint.
“Are you really going to lock them in a closet?” Fen whispered in my ear.
“No. I love my Pokemon. Jeez, you make me sound as if I run a boot camp.”
“Shouldn’t we continue this tomorrow? It’s already eight thirty.”
“Gee, real late. My grandmother stays up later than this. I want to get this done by tonight because I have other things to attend to tomorrow.”
Fen just shrugged. We all trekked to the attic. It was up five sets of stairs. All the way up, Titan and Ares bickered. I was starting to think that I had jinxed myself. After all, Ares was a Olympian god and the Olympians hated the Titans. I pushed the door to the attic open. A musty scent assaulted our noses and made us sneeze repeatedly. When we finally stopped, I swept my gaze around the old room. The walls had light pink wallpaper with blue roses. There were all sorts of stuff in the room. The ceiling was vaulted and rafters ran overhead.
I thought I heard something and looked up. It was probably my imagination, but there was a spot that was darker than the rest of the shadows. Like a shadow in the shadows. I shook my head and started looking through the stuff. I moved boxes out of the way until I saw it. Part of the floor had been eaten away by something. Something like acid. Titan was afraid of the dark and was hugged up on the others. I stooped and ran a finger over the ruined wood.
“The news paper said that she drank the acid and threw it back up. That would explain the ruined floor. But how does it explain how her face was eaten away?” I wondered aloud. I paced across the floor near the site of Kielle’s death. I felt a board give under my foot and I fell. Fen grabbed my wrist and pulled me up out of the hole. Since this was a old castle, I had new floors put in, a new one under the old one. Thank heavens I did. Otherwise, I could have been seriously hurt.
Iron Hide peered down in the hole. He jumped down and scampered into the darkness. I called his name, the rest of my Pokemon echoing me, trying to call him. After a few minutes, Iron Hide’s small black body came into view. I hoisted him up and hugged him hard. It wasn’t until I put him down that I realized he had a piece of paper in his mouth.
Iron Hide spat it out and stared up at me, love and hope that he did something right making his blue eyes shin bright. I unrolled the paper and saw that it was a picture of a bucket. Like the floor, the bucket looked like it had been eaten by acid. Just like that, it clicked.
“This bucket looks like someone poured acid in it. My guess is that Kielle poured the acid into the bucket, planning to kill herself. She got a cup, put some acid in it and drank it. When she drank it, it burned and she realized she didn’t want to die and threw it back up. The pain was too much for Kielle, so she passed out, fell face first into the bucket of acid and it ate her face and killed her.”
Something didn’t match up.
“But why would Kielle pour the acid into a bucket and then pour some into a cup? It makes no sense. Unless . . .”
I was still holding onto the idea that Kielle didn’t kill herself. I knew it deep down. There was something that was bugging me, I just couldn’t figure out what it was. Maybe the girls in the group with Kielle kidnapped her. That sounded like it fit. They brought her up to the attic and poured the acid in the bucket. The girls made her drink it, only she vomited it back up. That still didn’t explain how she fell into the bucket. If Kielle had passed out from the pain, she would have fallen to the side. After all, Kielle had been right handed so her left arm would have buckled first, causing her to fall to the side.
It still wasn’t enough. I dropped to my knees in front of the acid stains and planted my hands on the ground. I let myself go limp and sure enough, I fell to the left. So how did Kielle’s face end up in the bucket of acid?
“Fen? Can you please get your laptop? I need it.” He nodded. Titan, Mischief, Iron Hide and Ares all followed Fen down the stairs. Talon just looked at me. He disappeared around a corner and returned with a pail that had numerous holes and was sort of melted. I rubbed Talon’s head and kissed him hard. He’d founded the missing pail. Fen and the rest of my Pokemon returned with the laptop. He handed it over to me and I scrolled down through the article.
It said that Kielle had been hit in the back of the head. That would be cause enough to open a homicide investigation. So had the police been bought off? I stopped reading and rubbed my temple. I was getting a head ache.
“Okay. Kielle was hit in the back of the head. My guess is that after the girls in her group made her drink the acid, Kielle vomited it back up.”
“We’ve already established that.” Fen told me while playing some hand-clapping game with Iron Hide, Titan and Mischief. I swear, that man was weird.
“Duh! I knew that! After Kielle vomited up the acid, one of the girls came back to make sure the deed was done. She saw Kielle vomiting and hit her in the back of the head, causing her to fall face first into the pail.”
“So, the band members are the murderers?”
Something popped up in my brain and I grabbed the laptop. My Pokemon gazed at me with curious eyes. I went back three days before Kielle’s death and found the headline I was hoping wasn’t there.
“Look. I remembered something about three girls dying in a car crash three days before Kielle’s death. They were her band members, which was why they thought that Kielle killed herself.”
“So, if they didn’t . . . Who did?”
“You know, Fen? I just don’t know. Maybe we’re missing something.”
When Hector invited her here, he would have given Kielle a tour. I stood and handed the laptop to Fen. With him and my Pokemon following me, I walked through the castle, stopping at all the significant rooms, like the ballroom. What would Kielle be drawn to? She was a fifteen year old girl, who liked the color pink.
“Flowers?” Fen asked, as if he could read my mind.
“Of course, flowers! Are you a mind reader?” I asked him.
”No, you’re just saying everything out loud.”
“Oh. Well . . . To the garden.” Titan and Mischief were whispering to each other and Ares was giving them the stink eye. I swear, Ares was the problem child. Barely keeping track of my surroundings, I led the way to the garden. Hector had tried to keep it nice, but had been failing. Kielle died six months ago so the money must have been running out the last few months. All the flowers I had planted with my brother were gone, dead like Kielle. I paced around in the garden when Iron Hide let out a startled shriek.
I hurried over and saw that he’d picked up a gold hoop earring. Patting my pocket, I finally found Kielle’s picture. The earring Iron Hide had found was a perfect match. I began pacing again. In the article, it said her face had been burned off and almost all the skin until behind the ears. So, her earrings would have been missing. Why was it in the garden and why had no one picked it up before.
The killer could have taken it as a trophy. No, too risky. The notches in the gold told me that this was a favorite pair of earrings, worn almost everyday. They had found scraps of metal in her ears, telling that she’d been dressed up to go somewhere, the article said. Kielle had been wearing her prettiest dress when she died. Had she gone out on a date? They didn’t find any food in her stomach, mostly because of the acid that had been swallowed.
“What if it wasn’t Kielle? I read this book once about this guy. He had a twin and the murderer had killed the twin instead of the guy.”
I turned around and gave Fen a big, smacking kiss on the cheek.
”You are a genius!”
“About time I’m recognized.” He joked. That explained why Kielle had been dressed up. She had been going to see her twin. According to the article, Kielle had been adopted a few days after her birth. They only adopted Kielle, so her twin would have gone to a different family. I looked down at the grass and realized my Pokemon were copying my exact movements. Had Kielle and her twin wore the same dress?
That was how they identified the body, by using the dress since her teeth had been eaten away. Kielle had no distinguishing features on her body. Fen grabbed the laptop and we started reading again. There had been hair at the scene that hadn’t belonged to Kielle, but someone else, the length of it suggested a girl. So, chances were that the killer had killed Kielle’s twin instead of her and Kielle was in hiding. But where?!
We returned to the house, Mischief and Iron Hide riding on Talon’s back because they were asleep. As we walked pass the dining room, I realized something. I flipped on all the lights and the room was bathed in light. I had forgotten how beautiful it was. The walls had wood paneling, a rich cherry wood. There was also a chandelier in the dining room, this one was so big, it had to be suspended from four different cords.
There was a long table covered with a red cloth. The chairs were straight backed with gold cushions. Small tables with flowers were placed several feet apart to make the room smell sweet. To one side were the large windows and the doors that led to the verandah. I walked up to the place where my mom and dad’s picture had hung. Hector had taken it down before Kielle had come, so it would look like all the furniture was his, not mine.
Hector would never have forgotten to put that picture up. He had thought my mom was the most gorgeous person and left all the pictures of her up.
“Fen give me a boost, please? I want to examine this wall right here.”
Fen nodded and grabbed my hips. He lifted me up until I was at eye level with the spot where the picture had hung. I swiped my finger over the wall and peered at it. Nothing. I smiled and Fen threw me up on the air, a surprised shriek escaping my lips. He caught me and set me back on the floor. Titan held up both hands, while the rest applauded. Guess he was giving me a thumbs-up. I calmed myself and showed Fen my finger.
“If you’re trying to flick me off, you’re using the wrong finger.” Major eye roll.
“What do you see?”
“I don’t see anything.”
“Exactly. In the picture of Kielle, the picture of my mom and dad was gone. If Hector had keep it down, there would be dust in the place where it was.”
“Someone took it down, then. Let’s check the attic. Hector wouldn’t put it in one of the rooms that he took Kielle to see. Can dust even get on walls?”
“No, he wouldn’t. You make a excellent Watson.”
“Why do I have to be Watson? I want to be Sherlock, not the side kick.”
“Sherlock was the brains and Watson the beauty.” I grinned.
“Are you trying to tell me that I’m pretty? It’s a sad day when a man is called pretty.” Fen shook his head.
“Especially a manly man like you.” I patted a hand against his chest and caught Mischief trying to scare Ares. I shot him a look that promised revenge. He giggled, alerting Ares, who rolled his eyes. The rest of the group just continued doing whatever, ignoring them. It was getting pretty tiring walking up and down, but we all did it without too much complaining.
We began the tedious work of trying to find the picture among all the stuff in the attic. After what felt like twenty minutes, we had scanned the whole room. Nothing. Fen walked pass me, slipped on a screwdriver and started to fall. I reached to grabbed him, but I started falling with him. We landed in a heap of limbs, me on top.
“I’m flattered, but we’re a bit young for a commitment like this, don’t you think?”
“Haha, very funny. Don’t flatter yourself. Hey! What are you doing?!” Fen had grabbed me by the shoulders and was pulling me down. “Let me go!”
“Shut up! I found the painting!”
“Oh! Really?” I shook Fen’s hands off and climbed off him. That was a little bit uncomfortable. I laid down next to Fen and stared straight up like he was. He wasn’t lying. The picture had been shoved in the rafters, a few feet from where I had seen the shadow.
We both stood and Fen reached up to grabbed. He pulled it down and I smiled as I traced a finger over my parents’ faces. I felt a tug of pain in my heart and wanted to cry. Fen would probably make fun of me forever if I did, so I held my tears back.
“You look like your dad. Not so much like your mom.” He looked at me. I rolled my eyes. What was he talking about? I looked like me, not my parents. “You keep rolling your eyes like that and they’ll get stuck. Then, I’ll laugh at you until you die.”
“Focus on the task at hand, please.” Fen tucked the picture under his arm and we went back to put it up. I nearly screamed when Titan almost fell down the stairs. Ares lurched forward and grasped Titan’s tail in his mouth. Talon calmly grabbed Ares and dragged them to the top. Iron Hide and Mischief just stared, amazed by what had just almost happened.
I made sure they were all right before we went to the dinning room. Fen dragged a chair over to the wall and hung the picture up. I heard footsteps and motioned for Fen to turn out the lights. He did as I asked and I melted into the shadows. My Pokemon scampered under the table and I had no idea where Fen went. A tall person walked in and started to pass me. I stuck out a foot and tripped the person. I pinned the person with my knee to their back. Fen flipped on the lights and I saw black and white hair. Realizing who it was, I let Kielle up.
“You’re not dead.” I planted my hands on my hips. The clock hanging on the wall nearby said it was well after midnight, so what was Kielle doing here?
“Yeah, I’m not. That was my friend, Carey, who died.”
“Care to tell us what happened?” Fen stepped in.
“Fine.” Kielle held her hands up. “I have no problem telling it. As long as you don’t twist my words, we’re good. I came here because Carey called me. When I arrived, she was already dead. I panicked and ran out the house and hid in the garden. Then, I ran and hid from everyone. People thought I was dead, I wasn’t about to tell them I wasn’t.”
“But your friend died because she looked like you. I’ve seen pictures of you two together. Someone killed Carey. And since Rena, Leanne and Leanne’s cousin died in the car crash, that left you and Carey. You’re alive and Carey isn’t. You killed her, Kielle. You're a murderer.”
How the hell had Fen figured that out?
“No, I didn’t! How dare you? I’m leaving.” Kielle took off running. Titan gave a fierce cry and everyone charged after her. We ran all the way through the castle and out into the garden. We cornered her against a tree. Talon rounded the back with the others to prevent escape.
“Carey deserved it!” Kielle yelled. “She knew that I earned that spot but she was mad. She worked hard and I got it, she told me. Carey rewrote the lyrics to my song and gave it to our manager. My song didn’t get published because of her!”
“How could you? To fix everything, you should have shown the real lyrics to you manager instead of murdering Carey.”
“I don’t care! It was supposed to be all mine!”
“Do you have any idea how selfish you sound right now?” Fen said calmly. I could see that Kielle was tensed, ready to bolt. Talon dropped into a hunter’s crouch and signaled the others to be ready. Instead of running, Kielle sprang up and grabbed the tree branch above her head.
She hauled herself up and reached for something that wasn’t there. Kielle looked around, confused. I heard someone whistle and everyone looked above. The spider guy was balanced on a thin tree branch, smiling. He wore the same soiled suit and he was still bald. His smile widened as he saw me, showing his rotting teeth that were filed down into points. The spider guy held a bucket in one hand, swinging it back and forth.
“Kielle, you’ve been very bad and I’m ashamed for you. It’s time for you to pay the price every person must pay for their life. Death.” His guttural voice made those words sound so much more scary.
He dumped the bucket on Kielle and struck a match. It wasn’t until then that I realized it was gasoline. With a cool smile, the spider guy dropped the match on Kielle and she lit up like a christmas tree. Kielle dropped out of the tree, rolling around, screaming.
My Pokemon ran to me, horrified by the scene in front of them. I watched as Fen pulled a gun out from under his shirt and aimed it at Kielle. Eyes calm, aim steady, Fen pulled the trigger. The bullet caught Kielle in the head and the screams stopped. Fen aimed at the spider guy, preparing to shoot.
The spider guy jumped away, gleefully singing as he went away. Fen followed him a few feet into the forest that bordered my garden. He came back when he lost sight of the spider guy.
“Do you know him? He was calling your name.”
“Really?” I had just managed to push him out of my mind and now he was back. I was shivering and not because it was cold. My Pokemon had all but glued themselves to my legs and were holding on with all they had.
“He also said to call him the Gentleman Spider, capitol letters on both words.”
“Sounds like he wants to be famous.”
“He’s going to be.”
“How did you know that Carey didn’t die in the car crash?”
“You know those papers you gave me earlier? They were very interesting.”
Five Hours Earlier
Fen bent over the papers the Dark had just given him. They were police reports about a car crash and the suicide of Kielle MacNarama. There were three girls in the car crash. They had been identified as Rena Carus, Leanne Bracknee and Leanne’s cousin, Meena Caitlin.
It didn’t say that there was another girl, so what had happened to the third girl in Kielle’s group, Carey Madden? Fen found a photograph of all four girls. Rena had thick, curly red hair and amber eyes. Leanne was a brunette with blue eyes, but Kielle and Carey looked like twins. They had the same black hair that was white on top. It wasn’t uncommon to have black or white hair in Black Water, but to have both colors . . . Very unusual. Fen had only seen one person with black and white hair and that was his step brother, Akira. How weird that Kielle and Carey would have the same hair color.
Since Kielle had killed herself, that left Carey. Dark still believed that Kielle was murdered. Could it be possible that Carey could have done it? If so, where was Carey? Fen stood and walked to the kitchen. It wasn’t hard to find, just down the hall, through the lobby. He flipped the light switch and took a long look. It was smaller than he’d thought with black granite counter tops, a gleaming chrome refrigerator, a stove that was just as shiny as the refrigerator and plenty of cabinets and cupboards.
Fen looked closer at the floor and realized that it was made of Moon Wood. Moon Wood was a rare wood that grew in the darkest part of the forest in Black Water. It was pale and had a silvery finish. Fen strode over to the refrigerator and opened it. He found a soda and popped the tab. As he raised the can to his mouth Fen thought about how Hector had been living in a hotel for the last three months. Why that came to mind he didn’t know.
Fen turned to walk away and it hit him. There were fresh vegetables in the refrigerator. Hector had been living in a hotel so why would there be fresh vegetables? Surely, they would have rotten by now. That told him that someone was living in Dark’s castle. He had lied and told Dark that he didn’t feel what was in the house, but Fen could. He hurried back to the library and back to Dark.
“Someone has been living in my castle?!” I practically screamed in Fen’s ear. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that the reason why Kielle was here at such a late hour was because it was her who was living here.”
“Damn. Has she no decency?”
“Probably not. She killed her best friend.” Fen pried me off him. Mischief, Titan and Iron Hide were screaming. We were outside in front of my castle, waiting for the cops. I could hear the sirens before I saw the black and white cars pull up.
Thirty minutes later, we had given our statements and my Castle was sealed off. I fell asleep on the drive to the Mansion. Fen woke me up when we pulled into the garage by lightly tapping my face.
“Dark. Dark? Wake up!”
I popped open a eye and stared at Fen. Really? It was one AM for crying out loud. I was exhausted. And I told him so. Fen handed me my Poke Balls and picked me up. Needless to say, I fell back asleep.
The Gentleman Spider hummed to himself as he sat in a tree outside of Broken Shadows’ room at the Legionnaire Mansion. He dearly hoped that she wouldn’t die during the war. She was interesting . . . Exciting. A thrill he hadn’t had since dear Mari. How he had loved that child. With the frothy brown curls, big blue eyes and pale skin, she was so innocent, a lovely child.
But, the Spider thought to himself as he watched the young man, Fen, lay Broken Shadows on her bed. The Gym leader was pure. She hadn’t even been kissed for the first time. So beauteous and pure. That one word stuck in his mind when ever he thought of her. Pureness was something he’d searched for in a young woman for years. And the Spider finally found one. Her death would be legendary. Broken Shadows would not die in battle. She’d die by his hands. A thought that the Spider savored as he continued to hum to himself.