The Guild – Chapter 3 – Kaitlyn

    My hands are still shaking. Two cigarette butts lay at my feet, their contents burnt too fast to consume. I make a conscious effort to savor a new one between my fingers. I watch the space between the houses at the end of the driveway, hopeful. The night air bites, so I hug my jacket tighter around my chest. It’s been a long day.

    I wonder how they’ll adjust to the revelations I’ve brought them. A hidden world of magic isn’t something one stumbles into every day. Of course, they needed to know, for their own good. Logan isn’t the only threat out there. Let alone the risk of losing control of their own abilities.

    The screen door creaks as it opens slowly. My gaze snaps to the figure as he emerges. Even in the dark, his messy hair is distinctive. I turn to stare ahead and pretend I don’t notice him. I know better than to get my hopes up. Eventually, he’ll be afraid of me too.

    “How are you holding up?” he asks, stepping up next to me.

    I resist the urge to look over at him. “I’m fine. You?”

    “I mean, I’ve seen crazy shit before. Monsters is new though,” he muses. “My friends, on the other hand, they’re having a grand time with it.”

    I chuckle, “Yea, that’s kind of Logan’s specialty. Most monsters aren’t so… grotesque.” I flick off some ash, “I just hope your friend’s enthusiasm doesn’t get him killed.”

    “Kaede? Nah, he’s smart. I’m more worried about Caroline. She’s more down to earth, hard facts. This has shaken her up pretty bad,” he sighs. I nod half-heartedly. There’s a long pause before he clears his throat. “So, this Logan guy… Is he a friend of yours?”

    The half cigarette I have left burns up. I guess I won’t be finishing any right now. I clench my fist and cross it over my other arm. “He was.”

    “Doesn’t seem like the forgiving type. Do you think it’s still safe, I mean, for Caroline and I to hang around? Or would we be causing more problems for everyone else?” he turns his curious gaze to me. “What if he comes back, like you said, looking for us?”

    “He will,” I kick absently at the ground. “He’ll come for you, and others. You especially, if he saw what you did earlier,” I see his mouth open in the corner of my eye, assuming he’ll ask why, again. “Time magic is one of the rarest forms of magic. He’ll want to use you.”

    “I can’t let that happen. You could tell so easily, there’s no way he won’t figure it out soon. Especially if he saw me pull you out of the way,” he straightens himself. “I’m coming with you then.”

    I turn to him without meaning to and blink a few times. “Coming with me?”

    “I’ll help you find your ex-friend instead, and help you take him down. It’s safer than staying here, hiding,” he stares at me, his expression hardened and determined. A little smile cracks the corner of his mouth and he winks.

    I snap my head back facing ahead, letting my hair fall between us. What was that look for? Doesn’t he realize he’s putting himself in danger, even just standing there? My face feels hot, but I’m pretty sure it’s not on fire.

    “You are okay with my help, right?” he frowns. “His ability with those things could be troublesome. I suppose you have your own reasons for looking for him, but for me, it just isn’t right what he’s doing; stealing students and whatnot. I don’t know what he’s planning, but I’d like to pay him back. What do you say? Partners?” he grins, holding his right hand out to me.

    I’ve seen people do that before. It’s some sort of gesture of agreement, briefly holding hands. I find myself somewhat at a loss. He knows I set things on fire, right? Usually with my hands? What if I burn him by accident?

    “Well go on. I sincerely doubt he’s going to bite,” a masculine voice speaks from out of nowhere. To my right, perched on the lid of a garbage bin, is a small fox. Its big fuzzy ears stick upright, with its golden eyes fixed on us.

    “You’re late,” I sneer at the animal.

    It licks its paw and rubs its snout. “Terribly sorry, Kat. I was merely doing what you asked,” its nose twitches. “Shake the poor boy’s hand. Lord knows you could use some friends.”

    Oh, how I hate him sometimes. “You know what? I don’t think I missed you.”

    “No need to be rude,” the fox puffs its little chest out.

    “Who are you talking to?” Andrei asks, eyeing the fox, unsure.

    “Just your friendly neighborhood shapeshifter and full-time babysitter, at your service,” the fox jumps off the bin and prances up next to me.

    “Whoa! That’s wicked! You can talk?” Andrei gasps, leaning down for a closer look. “Where can I get one of those?”

    “He’s one of a kind… Probably…” I glare at the little beast.  “I hope Logan squashes you.”

    “Yes, yes,” he shifts into a snake and begins to coil his way up my leg. “Until then, I’m afraid you’re stuck with me.”

    “That’s … awesome,” Andrei smiles, clearly impressed.

    I grab the snake and drape it over my shoulders. It shrinks into a mouse and curls up under my collar. “We’ll see if you still feel that way in a few hours,” I flinch as tiny claws pinch my neck.

    “Does it have a name?” Andrei asks innocently.

    “It!” the mouse squeaks angrily. “I’ll have you know, I identify as male! Even though I don’t technically have a gender…”

    “His name is Rhoan,” I roll my eyes. “So, did you find him?”

    “Of course I did,” Rhoan sniffs. “But I’m not going to tell you until morning.”

    I grind my teeth. “If we wait, he’ll have time to make more monsters.”

    “Hm… What’s this Logan guy like?” Andrei asks. I don’t understand the question.

    “He’s kind of… Insane,” Rhoan replies. “Hard to really describe. Seems to think he’s on some sort of mission.”

    Andrei scratches his head. “I mean, is he an action seeker, or is he likely to hide and plan?”

    “He won’t come after you while I’m here,” I state simply. “He’s not that stupid.”

    “Speaking of here… Why are we still standing here? You are absolutely frozen, Kat. Get inside this instant!” Rhoan orders like a mother hen.

    I consciously try to stop shivering. “It’s not that cold…”

    “I’m sorry, I didn’t notice. We’ve been out here long enough, let’s get back inside,” Andrei opens the door and gestures for me to go ahead.

    “It’s fine, I’m fine, we don’t have to – Ow!” I jump as the mouse bites into my shoulder. “Alright, I’m going… Geez…” He locks the door behind him and I reluctantly reenter the little basement apartment.

    The living room is empty, one of the doors down the hall now closed. Andrei wanders down to peer into the other room. “Looks like she decided to stay with Kaede instead. You can use my bed if you want. I’ll sleep on the couch.”

    I glance between the couch and the dark hall. I can just faintly make out the voices in the back room. “If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather stay out here.”

    “I swear the bed is much more comfy, you’ll get a better rest,” he insists.

    I sit on the couch, kick off my boots, and pull my knees up. “Don’t worry about it. You should get some sleep.”

    “Suit yourself. I know it’s late, but I can make you something to eat. Are you hungry?”

    I open my mouth to refuse, but Rhoan beats me to it. “Yes,” Then, as if on cue, my stomach growls. My face turns a shade akin to a tomato, so I turn away from him.

    He chuckles. “We have ramen and tomato soup.”

    I tip my head, curious. “What’s ra-men?”

    He hesitates. “Uh… Instant noodles in a bean paste broth. It’s pretty good,” he reaches into the kitchen and throws a little packet across the room.

    I yelp and barely manage to catch it on instinct. I flinch, waiting for it to ignite in my hands. When it doesn’t, I relax. The plastic packaging is covered in characters I can’t read, but there’s a picture on the front of some kind of soup with noodles in it.

    I glance up at him, watching me from the kitchen archway. “Um… Okay, I guess,” I shrug, and toss it back. As he disappears into the kitchen, I pick at my nails and twist my fingers. Is this how life is for normal people?

    “I don’t understand! Kae, I’m freaking out! What’s going to happen?!” the girl’s voice emanates down the hall before she’s quieted again. I’m so glad that’s not my problem right now.

    A few minutes later, he emerges with two steaming bowls and sets them on the coffee table in front of me. “Mind if I eat with you?” he asks. I shake my head. He crouches then settles on the carpet, across from me. I carefully slide off the couch and sit on my legs so the table is the right height.

    Beside the bowl is a fork and a pair of sticks. I watch him pick up his own pair of sticks, and use them to pick up the noodles. I’ve never seen anyone eat like that before. He slurps a mouthful of noodles, then looks up. He stops and smiles.

    “Have you never used chopsticks before?”

    I laugh, embarrassed, and bite my lip. “I, uh… I don’t get out much.”

    “Don’t worry,” he snickers, “I learned from Kaede. He’s Japanese.” He crawls around the table. “Here, let me show you.”

    He picks up one of the sticks and picks up my right hand. I hold my breath. His hand is warm and calloused. He gently turns my hand and places the stick between my ring and middle finger, the long end resting in the crook between my thumb and first finger. He then takes the second one and puts it next to the other one, between my first and middle finger. Then, holding my hand in both of his, he shows me how to move the two in a pinching motion.

    “See, it’s easy. Now you try,” he nods to the bowl.

    I try to ignore my racing pulse and the fact that he’s watching. I prod a cluster of noodles with the sticks. Trying to mimic the motion, I carefully lift them out of the water and to my relief, they stay long enough for me to get them into my mouth. It’s not half bad, actually.

    “It takes some practice,” he leans back a bit, and slides his bowl closer, instead of moving away. “But I swear, it makes it taste better.”

    This strange boy, apparently oblivious, sits less than a foot away from me like it’s perfectly normal. Maybe it’s not strange. I guess I wouldn’t know since I’ve never left the guild before. I resolve to try to act natural, and just keep eating. What do normal people talk about?

    “So… You said Logan won’t attack while you’re around,” Andrei casually breaks the awkward silence.  “Why is that? Is he afraid of you?”

    I half shrug. “Probably more than most, which is saying a lot…”

    He hums. “Does he have any other abilities I should know about? Also, if you don’t mind me asking, where’d you get that sword from?”

    “Hm?” I blink. “Oh, that was Rhoan. He can change into pretty much anything.”

    “What? Even inanimate objects? Honestly, most handy friend ever!” he sighs. “I need to figure out a way to get my hands on a sword.”

    “If it comes to a fight, you can use Rhoan,” I lean back against the couch. He’d be safer that way.

    His eyes narrow slightly. “How does he take damage?”

    “What do you mean? He becomes the sword. How does steel take damage?”

    “It’s the same? That’s crazy!” he gawks.

    I shake my head and smile. Everything is so exciting to him. “Yea, we don’t know how it works, it just does.”

    When I finish eating, I climb back onto the couch. The broth seems to have thawed my body enough, so I pull off my jacket and toss it over my boots. Then I remember there’s a hole in the front of my shirt and glare at it. I liked this shirt. Oh well, I didn’t exactly bring a bag, so it’ll have to do. I slide back onto the middle of the small couch, putting a subtle distance between us as I curl up again.

    Andrei stands up, then picks up the two bowls. “It’s late. I’ll let you sleep. We’ll plan in the morning,” I watch him disappear into the kitchen and listen to the tap run for a moment. I want to tell him to stay. If I fall asleep; if I have another nightmare…

    “Want the light off?” he asks. I snap out of my daze. “If you need anything, I’m the last door down the hall,” he smiles. I just nod. I can manage on my own. He’s been through enough today.

    “Thanks. Good night,” I try to give a convincing smile.

    He flips the light switch, plunging the room into darkness. I wait for the door to close. One, two, three candles light up on the TV stand. The gentle flicker of their glow brings me a shred of comfort. At least if anything happens, Rhoan is here to keep them safe.

 

By Krystyna Yates

Kiki's Tales

    My hands are still shaking. Two cigarette butts lay at my feet, their contents burnt too fast to consume. I make a conscious effort to savor the one between my fingers. I watch the space between the houses at the end of the driveway, hopeful. The night air bites, so I hug my jacket tighter around my chest. It’s been a long day.

    I wonder how they’ll adjust to the revelations I brought them. A hidden world of magic isn’t something one stumbles on every day. Of course, they needed to know, for their own good. Logan isn’t the only threat out there. Let alone the risk of losing control of their own abilities.

    The screen door creaks as it opens slowly. My gaze snaps to the figure as he emerges. Even in the dark, his messy hair is distinctive. I turn to stare…

View original post 2,289 more words

The Guild – Chapter 2 – Andrei

Here is the next installment from my character’s point of view! Enjoy!

 

We pull up to Kaede’s basement apartment and file out of the car. It wasn’t a long drive but with Caroline freaking out silently, it was pretty intense.

“Hey, is your friend OK?” The driver asks, looking back through the rear-view mirror as I try to lift her out of the car. She seems to have passed out while we were driving. I don’t blame her.

“Yea, she’s just tired. Don’t worry about it.”

“Alright. Take care you kids. I hear there’s a kidnapper around here.”

“Actually -” Caroline starts to explain, but Kaede jumps in at the right moment.

“Yea, we heard, that’s why we called you. Thanks for the ride!” We finally exit the cab and, watching over our shoulders as we get into the house and lock the doors.

As soon as we’re in, I lay the red haired girl on the couch and run to the kitchen to grab a wet cloth.

“What’s wrong with her?” I hear Caroline say from the living room.

“She just fought off two crazy monsters and a dude who’s been kidnapping people. Did you not see him moving those monsters, Car? Give the girl a break.” Kaede retorts.

“I didn’t mean it that way,” She says defensively. “I mean, why isn’t she wounded anymore? Look!” I walk into the room with the warm cloth and I see her pointing at the girls stomach. I notice the tear in her shirt. “Andrei said she was bleeding but I don’t see any fresh blood, nor do I see a cut. She’s perfectly fine!”

“Look out,” I say as I take a look. I gingerly lift the bottom of her shirt up. I wipe away the dried blood and pause. I notice a small burn scar next to her belly button. I wipe again, to make sure it’s not a trick of my eye but it remains there, like a small flower shaped scar. I replace the shirt quickly, before the others have time to question what I’m doing.

“How is it?” Kaede asks, leaning over and checking her forehead for a fever.

“Good. It’s strange, but Car’s right. The wounds gone. I swear I saw her bleeding and look,” I show them the bloodstained cloth. “There’s blood here, but her wound is gone.”

“I told you! We shouldn’t have brought her here! What if that dude with the silver hair comes looking for her?! What if the monsters come back?! We probably led them right here!” Caroline’s hands wave wildly in the air as she speaks.

I get it; I thought the same thing, but I honestly couldn’t leave her there, no matter how little I knew her. She seemed… different somehow. I felt something around her. I couldn’t explain it, not yet.

“Caroline, you can take my bed, I don’t care.” She stares at me, flabbergasted that I would  change the topic, then huffs off to dump her things in my room.

“Kaede?”

“Hmm?”

“Did you see anything else during that fight? Anything strange?” I ask, hoping to confirm the details.

“Yea, I mean, for starters, where’d she get the sword, right?” He asks, taking a seat on his computer chair.

“Right, anything else?”

“Hmm,” He thinks a moment. “Other than the strange monsters and the silver haired dude, I mean, she suddenly killed both those things with fire. Does she have a lighter?”

I check her pockets, trying to be respectful and not prod too far. “Nothing. Maybe she dropped it.”

“Perhaps.” He nods.

“She said a name too. Rone, or Roahan. Something like that. Was there anyone else there besides us three and the silver haired guy?”

“Not that I recall. Wait, I think I saw an animal, maybe a cat or something run by. I can’t remember though.”

“This is strange.” I say, rubbing my chin.

“That’s an understatement,” Caroline says as she returns from my room. “This whole thing is a huge mess. What are we going to do with this girl?”

“Caroline, go check the window or something. See if you see anyone across the street.” I suggest.

“What?! I don’t want to be seen! What if they recognize me?”

“Don’t let them see you then.” I roll my eyes. Honestly. I turn to Kaede and nod my head.

“She noticed.” I say, softly, so Caroline doesn’t hear.

“You let her see?”

“Not on purpose, but I tried to knock her out of the way. The thing was fast. But I mean before. I think she can use magic!” I whisper.

Kaede looks over his shoulder to see if Caroline’s returned, then turns back to me with a serious look on his face. “That would explain the fire and no wounds.”

“Right. But how can she know if I change time or not? That’s just…”

“Not weird man. It’s like that in all the books and movies. A magic user can always tell when another user’s around.”

“Really, man?”

“Really.” He whispers, looking up as Caroline comes back in, she seems to have calmed down a bit.

“No sight of anyone.” She says, looking at the girl. “Hey, I think she’s stirring.”

We all turn to the red haired girl as she groans, eyes fluttering open. She just stares at the ceiling for a few moments, her eyes focused on nothing. Suddenly she jumps up, making us all lean back in shock as she leaps onto the back of the couch and crouches there. Caroline let’s out a surprised yelp as the candles on the TV stand light for no reason.

We all watch her, I throw up my hands to calm everyone down. Her eyes look panicked like a trapped animal, and are they.. Orange? I’ve never seen eyes that colour before. They’re strangely attractive. She watches us carefully, her chest heaves with each breath and she looks ready to jump past us. She has nowhere to run, thanks to the small space and the three of us standing around her.

“Hey, hey, it’s OK. You’re alright. No one’s going to hurt you. Do you… remember what just happened?” I ask, trying to relieve the tension.

She squints at me, her face scrunches up and she rubs her forehead as if it hurts. “Shit… I guess that wasn’t another bad dream.” She mumbles.

“Wait, are you saying this happens often?” Caroline says in a forced whisper.

“Not the time Caroline.” I hiss.

The girl scratches her head, “Uh… Well, yeah.” She says flatly.

“Great!” Caroline huffs, throwing her hands and storming back into the kitchen.

I turn back to the girl. “What do you mean another bad dream? Can you tell us what happened back there? Why was that guy kidnapping students? Why were you following us? And how’d you – “

“How’d you defeat those monsters?” Kaede interjects like a hyper child with a new video game. I give him a look but I can’t stop his wild imagination.

She looks at us with a level stare, “I set them on fire. Weren’t you there?” She raises an eyebrow at Kaede, like he’s the crazy one. He just gawks.

“So, no lighter? No matches? Just…” He flicks his fingers and makes a puffing sound.

The girl raises her hand and mimics Kaede perfectly, except real flames leap from her fingertips and he jumps out of his chair.

“Whoa! You really are a witch!” He looks at me like he’s not sure if what he’s seeing is real or not.

“Witch?” She says with a defensive huff, sliding down onto the couch and sitting with her legs pulled up to her chest. “Do you see a pointy hat?” She draws the impression of a hat on her head with her hand. I snicker.

“Not all witches wear hats,” Kaede points out, holding up his hand ready to tally the number of tv shows he knows where witches don’t wear hats.

She looks at him with a sarcastic smirk, “Which of us do you think knows more about witches? You or me?”

“That’s besides the point,” I interrupt, glaring at her and Kaede both. “What were you doing on campus? I saw you earlier, before lunch. Why were you following us?”

She shrugs, like it’s obvious, “I was looking for Logan. You seemed like a likely next target.”

“Logan, is that the silver haired dude?” Kaede asks.

“Target? Why me? I don’t even go to that school.” I say. This girl obviously knows way more about what’s been happening on campus than either of us know, but why? And how does she make those flames? Is she really anything like me? I intend to drill her all night if I have to.

“Where’s your sword?!” Kaede asks out of turn.

“Common, man! Wait your turn.”

She laughs, “He’s not just targeting random students.” She pointedly ignores Kaede. “He’s looking for young people with… potential.” She looks me up and down and it’s like I’m naked under her gaze. I feel a blush touch my cheeks. “You stick out like a sore thumb. I could pick you out in a heartbeat.” She adds.

I stare her down, I need more information. “What kind of potential?” I ask. I need to know how much she knows.

“Magic, spells, sorcery. That sort of thing. It’s kind of a whole underground society.” She says matter of fact.

“It’s real man! She’s not just kidding us! I can’t believe it! Oh my god I’m so psyched!” Kaede jumps up and down energetically. Like my own secret wasn’t enough prove for him to believe in magic.

“Well, I think your friend here has the wrong people in mind. None of us here can do magic.” I say, standing up and crossing my arms. This whole thing sounds fishy to me, like it’s too good to be true.

She pouts, “Oh… Then I guess I got impaled back there and died. This is a pretty crappy afterlife.” She stares at me, unblinking, a smug smile on her cute face. It almost looks like a glare with all that mascara on.

“Ah-hem,” Kaede coughs, standing next to the TV stand and elbowing one of the candles off balance.

I see it falling and out of instinct, I feel the time around me, slowing it down and dashing over to grab it. I see it fall at half the regular speed and I grab the bottom of the candle, holding the flame up. I set it back on the stand and return time to normal.

I turn back to the others and freeze. “Shit… You jerk!” I punch Kaede in the shoulder.

“Oww…” he pouts. He deserved that.

The girl grins like she just won a million dollars.

“You can’t pass this up man! It’s too awesome!”  I just glare at him, angry with his trick.

She stops smiling and furrows her eyebrows, thinking, “But that doesn’t explain why there were two traps…” She slowly turns to the kitchen, where Caroline disappeared to.

Kaede and I share and questioning look and shrug.

“Maybe he knew you were there?” I suggest. She just shakes her head. She suddenly jumps up and sneaks into the kitchen. We quickly follow behind, waiting to see what she’ll do.

Caroline is looking out the window again, balanced on the balls of her feet, peering across the street. She doesn’t even notice the girl standing right behind her. Suddenly the girl pokes Caroline in the side and she jumps with a small cry, slipping on the floor. The girl backs up stealthily, like a cat.

“Oh my god! What was that for!” Caroline shouts, rubbing the spot on her back where she was poked. Kaede and I both snicker from the doorway. It was too good. She glares at us, clearly offended. “It’s not funny you guys. What’s your problem?” She grunts at the girl.

The girl looks around Caroline, as if looking at something behind her. “Interesting…” She mutters. She turns back to me, “Do you see it?”

I shake my head, “I don’t see anything. Why?”

She looks annoyed, pointing with her finger, “Look harder!”

I look again and see Cars grumpy face, then. As if focussing a lense on a camera, I focus on the space around her and see a shimmering light, like a blue filmy cloth floating around her. “What is that?!” I ask, stepping closer.

I turn to the girl and suddenly I see a similar film, like a veil of shimmering red around her too. “You have one too!” I gasp in surprise.

“What? What do you see?!” Kaede complains from behind.

“It’s like a… I don’t know, an invisible curtain or something. Can’t you see it?” I ask him.

“Nope, just a grumpy Car.” He complains.

“It’s called an Aura. It’s like a signature of your magic ability. Not everyone can see them, not even all magic users.” She explains.

Kaede frowns, leaning against the wall. “Figures, I’m just a normal kid.” He’s definitely sulking.

“What do you mean, magic?” Caroline asks. She definitely missed most of what was said in the other room. “I don’t know any magic. I don’t even believe it exists!” She says. She’s a product of her studies, all hard core facts and theories. She can be so cute sometimes.

The girl shakes her head, “Sorry, one lecture per customer. You boys can fill her in. I need to step outside.”

“Wait, you can’t go out there. What if that Logan dude comes back?” Kaede says blocking the door.

She shrugs, pushing past him easily, “Then I’ll kill him.”

“Why didn’t you do it before then?!” Caroline points out. I dash over and grab the girls wrist, making her stop.

She looks at me, surprise crossing her face as she flinches away from my touch. I’m a little taken aback, did it hurt? “It might not be wise to attract his attention now. It’s getting late, and besides, we don’t even know your name.” I point out.

She half turns away, face hidden by the door frame, “It’s Kaitlyn,” She mumbles, “I’ll only be a minute.” She pulls her hand away and climbs the stairs, letting the door slam shut behind her.

“Great! Now fire girl-”

“Kaitlyn.” I correct.

“Kaitlyn… She’s gone and I’m alone with two magic freaks who almost got me killed today!” Kaede buzzes.

“Oh shut up Kae, For all we know she could be lying about our magic.” Caroline grumbles. She looks to me for confirmation and I shrug.

“I don’t know… She did something and I saw those auras. I don’t think she was lying.”

A scared look fills Caroline’s eyes.  “Then… what’s going to happen next?” she asks.

“I don’t know…” I say. “Anything could happen next.”

By Kayla West

Kiki's Tales

    We pull up to Kaede’s basement apartment and file out of the car. It wasn’t a long drive but with Caroline freaking out silently, it was pretty intense.

     “Hey, is your friend OK?” The driver asks, looking back through the rear-view mirror as I try to lift her out of the car. She seems to have passed out while we were driving. I don’t blame her.

    “Yea, she’s just tired. Don’t worry about it.”

    “Alright. Take care you kids. I hear there’s a kidnapper around here.”

    “Actually -” Caroline starts to explain, but Kaede jumps in at the right moment.

    “Yea, we heard, that’s why we called you. Thanks for the ride!” We finally exit the cab and, watching over our shoulders as we get into the house and lock the doors.

    As soon as we’re…

View original post 2,516 more words

The Guild – Chapter 1 – Kaitlyn

    It’s past noon. I’ve been wandering around this campus for hours. When did silver hair become a trend? Students run around this place like ants, either oblivious or careless. A dozen have already gone missing, but life goes on. University is expensive, or so I hear.

    The alcove outside the Library offers shelter from the brisk October winds. Just enough to light a much-needed cigarette. I’d hoped this mission would be quick, simple. There are too many people. Too many potential targets. I need to narrow it down somehow.

    The doors swing open, missing me by inches. I glare at the young man as he steps out, the mop of long curly brown hair dances in the breeze. He pushes the hair out of his face and freezes when he notices me watching him. Most people ignore me; my odd red hair hardly sticks out in a place like this. He doesn’t turn away.

    “What?” I snap, uncomfortable with the attention.

    He glances at the death stick as I inhale. “You’re not allowed to smoke here, gorgeous.” He smirks, gesturing to the obnoxious sign above my head.

    As I stare back at him, I sense a strange aura about him. This is no ordinary student. I narrow my eyes, and my lip curls up in one corner, “My mistake.” The cigarette burns rapidly, apparently out of nowhere. The ashes are carried on the wind into the young man’s face.

    He flinches and holds his breath as the smoke passes. One eyebrow cocks as he eyes my now empty hand. He seems torn but finally turns and mutters. “Sorry… I have to go.”

    I watch the gentle curls bounce as he hops down the steps and walks away. He glances over his shoulder twice, before turning a corner out of sight. An interesting development.

    “You should follow him,” a voice whispers in my ear. My hair shifts and a little nose with long whiskers pokes out.

“Don’t have to tell me twice,” I snicker, skipping down the steps after him.

    The strange boy goes to the Student Centre, where he sits with an Asian boy and a blonde girl. The blonde appears to be upset, but the boys are relatively light-hearted. I buy a coffee, and sit at a small table by a window, halfway across the large room. In the sea of colourful hair and backpacks, it’s almost impossible to pick out an individual. His aura, unique as it is, draws my gaze without fail.

    The trio spends over an hour in the lunchroom, chatting, and whatnot. It’s incredibly boring. I scroll through social media on my phone to pass the time, until finally, they get up to leave. They cross the campus to a nearby dorm building. At that point, the brunette seems annoyed. I keep my distance, so I can’t hear their conversation. The sun inches toward the horizon when they finally emerge, at least six bags carried between them.

    With the added baggage, they amble across the nearly deserted parking lot. They cut through a tunnel between buildings. I hang back, wary of the lack of hiding places. I’m starting to think following them is a waste of time until I hear a scream.

    “Finally,” I smile as I take off for the mouth of the tunnel. The group is almost out the other side, but they’re not alone. The blonde, kicking and screaming, is confined within the ribcage of a thin, fleshy monstrosity. A second one looms beside it as the two boys scramble back.

    “That’s quite enough of that horrible noise,” A melodic male voice echoes down the tunnel. I duck into a shadow just before the man steps into the light of the lamp above the group. The girl’s screams cut off, and she grasps at her throat with panic, eyes bulging. Can’t say I disagree with that spell.

    “Who are you?!” the brunette demands. He’s braver than he looks.

    “Me?” the silver-blonde man grins and brushes imaginary dirt from his light grey suit. “I’m Logan, your new best friend,” his silver eyes fall on the Asian boy, who’s fallen to the ground in shock. “I’m sorry, he won’t be needing you.”

    I dash across the cobblestone path as the man raises his arm. The beast without a prisoner lifts its long, pointed arm and stabs down at the hapless youth. The rat on my shoulder slides down my arm, into my hand, where it transforms into a sword. The creature screeches, a horrid sound, as it’s arm rolls away and black liquid oozes from the stump left behind.

    It seems like all three students hold their breath as I stand upright. I keep my eyes on the silver-haired man, the one I’ve been looking for. A wicked grin spreads across his perfectly angular face. His long, thin arms spread out almost as though for a hug.

    “Kat,” he cooes. “I’ve missed you,” I glare at him. He pouts. “Now, don’t look at me like that. I thought we were friends?”

    “That was before you started kidnapping people,” I spit.

    He chuckles and folds his hands behind his back. “Kidnap? That’s such a harsh word… I prefer to think of it as rehoming.”

    I glance at the girl trapped in the bony cage. With a precise swing, I slice through the base of right half of the ribs. The girl tumbles onto the ground with a silent yelp. The Asian boy scrambles out from behind me to the girl’s side, helping her sit up.

    He looks to Logan, confused. “Wait… You mean you’re the one responsible for the missing students?” Logan shrugs innocently.

    “What the hell is wrong with you?” the brunette steps up beside me.

    “What are you still doing here?” I hiss at him. “Run, while you still can.”

    He looks at me like I’ve got three heads until recognition passes his expression. “Hey, you’re the girl from the library! Look, you may have a sword, but I can’t let you fight alone. Kaede, get Caroline out of here.”

    “No way man, I’m not leaving you here with that freak!” the other boy snaps.

    The brunette grumbles. “Fine, just… Stay back then.”

    I roll my eyes. “This is not the time to play hero,” I don’t wait for his response. Instead, I lunge at the creature missing an arm. I slice off a leg, the head, and then cut the torso in half just to be sure. The other one lumbers up behind me, missing half its ribcage. I spin the blade and stab backwards under my right arm. It groans and stumbles away, taking the sword with it.

    “Kat, it’s not like you to hold back. What are you waiting for?” Logan grins, “Light them up. Light them all up.”

    “Shut up,” I snap. I duck under the giant creature’s swing and grab the handle of my sword. I twist the blade, still in the thing’s gut, and rip it wide open. The thing crumbles into a pile of black goo and pale green flesh.

    “Hey, gorgeous! Look out!” the voice catches my attention. I spin on my heel just in time to see the business end of the reformed monster’s pointy arm inches away from me.

    I’m hit with a blunt impact, first on my chest, and then on my back, knocking the breath right out of me. I gasp. Suddenly I’m looking at the concrete ceiling. Above me, two sets of running shoes scurry back. The pressure on my chest lifts and I’m confronted with a set of bright hazel eyes.

    “Are you alright?” he asks, breathless.

    Movement behind the curtain of long brown hair catches my eye. I hook my leg around one of his and swipe at his elbow. He grunts in surprise as he tumbles to the left and rolls away. The tip of the thing’s arm pierces the left side of my stomach. I grit my teeth.

    “Fine. Have it your way,” I growl. With my teeth, I pull the velcro strap on my right glove and bite the edge of each finger until it slides off. I grab the fleshy arm with my bare palm. The creature yelps and retreats several steps. It claws at its arm as flames crawl up its flesh, slowly devouring it.

    The brunette gawks, eyes falling from my hands to the flow of red from my gut. “Hey, be careful, you’re bleeding!” he scrambles to his feet.

    “Thanks, I hadn’t noticed,” I grumble. I kick my legs in the air, using the momentum to flip onto my feet. I spot Logan manipulating the broken body of the second monster back together. “Logan, I’ve had enough of your shit. You can either come quietly, or you can come dead,” sparks dance at my fingertips.

    The suave young man twists his lips into a pout. “I’m afraid I don’t like either of those options. Here’s my counteroffer,” he gestures, and the repaired creature lumbers at the brunette boy. At the same time, he turns and takes off out of sight.

    “Crap,” I cuss, “Rhoan, follow him,” the sword, forgotten on the ground, shifts into a fox and bolts out of the tunnel. I pull off my left glove and notice the boy fending off the slow attacks of the beast with a kitchen knife. I’m not even sure where he got it from.

    Focusing energy between my hands, I form a small ball of hungry fire and lob it at the fleshy thing. It lands square on its back and spreads in an instant. Soon, we’re left with no more than two large piles of ash. I let out a heavy sigh of relief.

    “Oh my god… Oh. My. God! What was that? Who was that? Who is she?!” a female voice rambles at hyperspeed. I roll my eyes.

    “Calm down, Car. It’s fine, look, Andrei’s handling it,” the other boy assures her. I turn slowly, glaring at the pair. Are they serious?

    “You three need to leave. Now. Get somewhere safe and lay low. He may create more of those things and come back,” I hold my stomach with one hand, warm liquid seeping through my fingers. With the other, I crouch down to collect my gloves.

    “We can’t leave you here,” the one called Andrei, insists. “You’re bleeding!”

    “Yes, we can! We don’t even know her!” the girl shrieks.

    “Again, thank you for the update,” I roll my eyes and shoot the girl a cold look. “You’re welcome for the rescue. I only got stabbed for you.”

    “Andrei is right, we can’t,” the other boy nods. I think his name is Kaede? “Look, Car, this is all super crazy, I know, but it’s just like a video game!” his face lights up. Yea, he’s totally going to get himself killed. “It’s so freakin’ awesome!” the girl punches him in the arm and he winces.

    My view of the bizarre couple is blocked when Andrei kneels beside me. He hands me the gloves I was reaching for. “Look, we’re taking you with us. You’re in no condition to go after that guy alone.”

    I study his face; strong jaw, slightly small nose, a shadow of stubble across his face. Piercing brown eyes with a hint of a yellow ring, wide as they can be. “You’re not going to take ‘no’ for an answer, are you?” his lips curl up into a small smile as he shakes his head.

    “Fine, then I’m calling a cab,” the girl huffs, as she digs for her cellphone.

    I sit, ungracefully, and lean back on my right arm. Closing my eyes, I focus first on steady breathing. Then, I imagine the fibers of my flesh weaving back together. I know it’s working when the pain intensifies. Breath in, and out…

    “Back there… Did that fire come from you?” Andrei whispers. I peek at him with one eye. He glances over his shoulder at his friends, who are occupied with baggage issues. He looks down at my hand over the wound and his brows raise. “Are you… using magic?!”

    I frown. “Are you just figuring that out now? After all that? You used magic too. Don’t play dumb with me.”

    “Dumb? I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he turns his face away. “Magic isn’t real… I don’t know what you saw.”

    “The cab will be here in ten minutes! Get over here you two!” the girl yells from the other end of the tunnel.

    I barely glance in her direction. “If you really believe that, then why did you ask?”

    He doesn’t respond for a moment, before glancing over his shoulder. “Come on, I’ll help you up.”

    I scoff and shake my head. He slides one arm around my waist and carefully lifts me until I’m standing. The world is a little topsy-turvy, but I can manage. The hole is still closing, but the bleeding seems to have stopped. I put the gloves back on and flex my hands until they’re comfortable again.

    The strange boy watches me like a hawk as we meander down towards the other two, and hovers by the door when I slide in behind the passenger seat. The girl takes the front after they stuff all her crap in the trunk. Andrei scoots in the middle of the backseat, and Kaede sits behind the driver, giving directions. I lay my head back on the seat when the car starts moving.

    I may have lost more blood than I thought…

By Krystyna Yates

Kiki's Tales

    It’s past noon. I’ve been wandering around this campus for hours. When did silver hair become a trend? Students run around this place like ants, either oblivious or careless. A dozen have already gone missing, but life goes on. University is expensive, or so I hear.

    The alcove outside the Library offers shelter from the brisk October winds. Just enough to light a much needed cigarette. I’d hoped this mission would be quick, simple. There are too many people. Too many potential targets. I need to narrow it down somehow.

    The doors swing open, missing me by inches. I glare at the young man as he steps out, the mop of long curly brown hair dances in the breeze. He pushes the hair out of his face and freezes when he notices me. Most people ignore me. My odd red hair hardly sticks out…

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