【 I 】woke up to the sound of the alarm ringing. I reached over, but immediately stopped in my tracks. The pulsating pain I felt from my shoulder was unbearable. I couldn't bear to move a single muscle. Everywhere hurts like hell. I flinch as I gently graze the surface of my skin. I was covered in freshly wrapped bandages. Next to my side, stood a note that says
ɪ ᴀꜱꜱᴜᴍᴇ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ʏᴏᴜ ᴡɪʟʟ ʙᴇ ʜᴀᴠɪɴɢ ꜱᴏᴍᴇ ᴛʀᴏᴜʙʟᴇ ᴍᴏᴠɪɴɢ ᴀʀᴏᴜɴᴅ. ᴊᴜꜱᴛ ɪɴ ᴄᴀꜱᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ɴᴇᴇᴅ, ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ'ꜱ ᴀᴅᴠɪʟ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛᴏᴘ ʀɪɢʜᴛ ᴄᴀʙɪɴᴇᴛ. ɪ ʜᴏᴘᴇ ɪ ᴅɪᴅɴ'ᴛ ʙᴀᴛᴛᴇʀ ʏᴏᴜ ᴜᴘ ᴛᴏᴏ ʙᴀᴅ... ɪ ɢᴏᴛ ᴛᴏ ᴛᴀᴋᴇ ᴄᴀʀᴇ ᴏꜰ ᴀ ꜰᴇᴡ ᴛʜɪɴɢꜱ, ꜱᴏ ɪ'ʟʟ ꜱᴇᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ʟᴀᴛᴇʀ.
No pain, no gain I mumbled as I unwillingly dragged myself out of bed. I slowly limped over to the closet, grabbing one of my favorite hoodies. It was pitch black that had the words Fuck You in some fancy font that was embroidered on the top of the hood. The same phrase applied to the front, but the text was enlarged for the world to admire. I then pulled out grey sweats and started heading out the door.
As I made my way to the main dining hall, I noticed a lot of people glaring at me. Ever since this morning, I couldn't help but to feel everyone's eyes burning into my back. There were a couple of dirty looks that were directed at me for some reason. From left to right there were always a hoard of people crowding and whispering among themselves.
"Hey Scar!" Someone grabbed my arm and pulled me away from the lurking crowd.
"Ow! Watch it, that hurts!" I exclaimed, jerking my arm away from Alex's grasp.
"Seems like the Queen of the school did a good number on you huh. She gave you a good beating didn't she."
"Huh? What do you mean?" I looked at her puzzled.
"You know what I mean you doofus. It seems that earlier today, Eris beat the living daylights out of you."
"And how do you know that?" I perked my eyebrows at her.
Alex reached into her bag and pulled out the academy's newspaper. The moment she pulled it out, the glimpse of the cover page caught my eyes. In a flash, I snatched it out of her hands and started skimming through the pages. The headlines of the highlight section consisted of pictures that showed my ass getting whooped from this morning's session.
"ᴛʜᴇ Qᴜᴇᴇɴ, ᴇʀɪꜱ ᴡɪɴᴛᴇʀꜱ, ᴘᴀʀᴛɴᴇʀɪɴɢ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴀ ᴍᴇʀᴇ ɴᴏʙᴏᴅʏ"
"ᴇʀɪꜱ ᴡɪɴᴛᴇʀꜱ ᴅᴇꜱᴇʀᴠᴇꜱ ᴀ ʙᴇᴛᴛᴇʀ ᴅᴜᴏ, ɴᴏᴛ ᴛʜɪꜱ ɴᴏʀᴍɪᴇ"
"ᴅɪᴅ ᴇʀɪꜱ ᴡɪɴᴛᴇʀꜱ ꜰɪɴᴅ ᴀ ɴᴇᴡ ᴘᴜɴᴄʜɪɴɢ ʙᴀɢ ᴏʀ ᴀ ʀᴇʙᴏᴜɴᴅ?"
I made a face, crumpling up the newspaper and tossing it in the trash. "That's some utter bullshit." I said irritatedly while folding my arms.
"Don't think too much about it. It was bound to come your way. They're obviously jealous that they didn't get chosen to be Eris' new partner. She is literally the epitome of every girl's dreams. She has the brawn and the brains, the looks, personality, and just highly skilled overall. It's either people wanting to be her, or be with her. Though, one thing I do have to admit that's kind of strange is for someone who just arrived at the academy has all of a sudden drawn the attention of Miss Winters. Not sure whether that's a blessing or a curse." Alex shrugged her shoulders, taking a bite of her cold sandwich.
"Wait, wait. What do you mean a blessing or a curse? And what is this about partners?"
Alex scooted her chair next to mine, leaning in close. "Just a bit on Miss Winter's background. It seems that she's extremely unlucky with relationships in general. Eris has been a student here for quite some time now. She has been through several partners. Almost all of them ended up using her for their own personal gains. So far, it has been for fame, glory, power, popularity, money, looks, and whatever. There have been several rumors going around saying that the last two partners she had before you, really fucked her up."
"How so?" I questioned.
"Supposedly, the first partner was one of Eris' first lovers. Word on the street got out, saying that her partner's lust for power was much stronger than the love she had for Eris. As for the second, the fate of Eris' partner didn't have a happy ending. One of the last major missions that Eris took years ago, resulted in her comrade's death. Not only was she just her comrade, but a true lover. A lot of people were saying that it was Eris' fault that she died. And because of that incident, she changed drastically and has been riding solo ever since. It has been a long time since she decided to pick up someone again. I dunno whether to consider it a curse or a blessing considering all the things she's gone through."
I sat there in disbelief, staring down at my tray of food. "God, that's awful. What scums they all are. If I ever see them, they'd better run or they will get a taste of my fiery fists." I remarked, pounding my fists together.
Alex giggled, "That is, if you're good enough to even land them."
I rolled my eyes, letting out a huff. "Ha ha. Touché."
"But yeah, it's really unfortunate that she had to go through that kind of vicious cycle." Alex sighed, taking a sip of her hot chocolate.
"But back to what I was saying. As for partner selections, it's important for you to keep this in mind. People from the higher houses are the ones that get to pick their own allies. It's extremely rare for someone who's of the highest tier to pick someone who's lower. Though, there are exceptions and factors that come into play when selecting. Kinda forgot the specifics, but just know that if two or more people choose the same person, they would have to spar it out. The winner gets priority of course."
"Interesting. And how do I ascend up the tiers?" I asked, pretending to be slightly interested.
"Why are you asking me? You're the one who's in the higher house."
"Pfft. You're giving me the "I know everything" vibes. So spill the beans."
"Ya gotta be stronger than your opponents. Get good. It doesn't get any simpler than that. You're in Tenebris so I assume you're not too far off." She said cheekily with a sly smile across her face.
"Wow. What a smartass." I said sarcastically.
"Yep. I gots to go, it was nice chatting. Have fun in class and don't forget to update me!" She shouted, already rushing out the door."
Eris Winters. The name echoed in my mind as the bell continued to ring, signaling that class was about to start.