“Year 1204… Dad, what season are we in?”
“We're in the last week of spring, Lucas, I think we should get you a therapist, perhaps…”
“No Dad, last week of spring… last week of spring… Mum, has the empress called for you recently?” I mumbled to myself in between my questions.
“The empress? No, Lucas, perhaps you should listen to your fath…” My mother looked towards my father, still visibly riddled with worry.
“Mum, if she ever calls for you take me with you too, I need to confirm something.”
“Alright my love, I’ll take you with me,” she spoke, I couldn’t tell whether she meant it or if she was simply trying to calm a child who was throwing the most ridiculous tantrum.
“Mum… Dad… You don’t believe me, do you? You don’t believe that I’ve lived the future, do you?” I retorted to their reluctance.
‘I know I’m being ridiculous but if I can save Raven, Mum and Dad then the things that happened to this empire could also be avoided.’
“Lucas… sometimes when people go through an intense awakening they can sometimes dream or see things that aren’t real…” My father spoke obviously from a place of worry but to me, preventing the fall of the Empress first was far more important.
“Dad, I know what I saw, felt and went through… The empress will call for Mother soon and she’ll ask the both of you to dispatch a few knights without the Emperor knowing to find Princess Evangeline.”
“Lucas, why would the empress ever do such a thing? It would be much easier to find the princess utilising the Imperial knights.” I placed my hands on top of both my father and mothers.
“Dad trust me just this once, I know it sounds absurd but everything important to me is on the line… Mum please you have to trust me just this once.”
“Lu… This mother is always on your side, you are and will always be my precious baby. Now let’s get dressed and go downstairs to eat.” I nodded.
‘Even if I don’t push harder right now, they’ll realise that my words hold more credibility when the Empress inevitably asks for help in the search for Raven… Raven… was she really the lost princess? If so, why were her eye’s not golden? I should’ve asked her more about her childhood, no I should’ve just been at least a shoulder she could lean on…’
- - -
‘Knock’ ‘Knock’ ‘Knock’ 3 gentle but firm knocks could be heard from outside the door.
“Come in,” I said and unexpectedly the director and Miss Dandy walked in.
“Vee please go wait outside for a moment, we would like to speak with Rein and Reuben,” she spoke with a firm voice, I looked at the twins and back towards the director.
“O… Okay,” I said, unable to think of a reason to stay and walked out and shut the door.
‘Chimera? Where are you? Hurry over I don’t know what’s going on but the Chimera and the teacher have kicked me out of the room and are talking to the twins.’
[I’m right here to your left.] I looked over wondering where exactly he was.
‘What? This fly?’ I said while pointing to the little fly flying around on my left.
[... Yes, you asked me to turn into a fly… remember?] I could almost imagine the Chimera frowning.
‘Oh right, sorry… since you’re a fly anyway, can you go in there, I'll connect my mind with you and listen in.’ I said changing the subject.
[There’s no need, I can connect my sight and hearing to yours, you’ll be able to move freely so this option is better just in case someone else comes.]
‘Since when did you have a feature like that?’
[It just came to me this morning, after I lost connection with you for a few minutes I found out I had also been upgraded, I can do a whole lot more now. Anyway I’ll go in now.]
With that, the Chimera flew towards the crack at the top of the door and I could suddenly see the view inside the room and hear their conversations.
- - -
“Rein Reuben, where did you learn to read? I was sure I forbade the two of you from doing so.”
“We didn't. It's just when Miss Dandy was reading us books I saw a few things.” Reuben flinched a little while looking the director straight in her eyes.
“Don’t lie to me, where did you get the book from?” she spoke with a harsher voice than before.
“It was just lying in the corridor…” Reuben answered.
“You two better stop lying or else there will be consequences, Rein where did you two get the book?”
“Like Reuben just said, in the corridors and I don’t know how to read, letters are annoying. Why would I ever learn that shit.” Rein’s comment seemed to trigger something within the director as she grabbed him hard by his shoulders and spoke in a low voice.
“Rein, I am being very generous to both of you, I’m sure you know that… Should I tell you what happens to children who are bad?” the glint in Rein’s eyes shifted a bit at her words and his facial expression changed to that of anger.
“I’m not the same 4-year-old who was afraid of every word that came out of your mouth anymore, get your hands off of me,” Rein spoke while shaking himself out of her grip. Reuben looked at his twin stunned at the way he was acting.
The expression on the director's face went from visible anger to an instant straight face that made me swallow my saliva and anticipate her next moves.
“Dandy! It seems the children in section C love being disobedient, tonight send Rein to section B and Reuben to section A, leaving them together has made them develop a bad habit.” She said while staring Miss Dandy down.
“I understand, director.”
[Section B? He… He might die]
‘Die? What? What exactly is going on in Section B?’ Before my Chimera could respond the door opened loudly startling me and both the director and Miss Dandy walked out of the room.
“You, I suggest that you get whatever idea you gained from the other two out of your head… That is if you wish to live. It’ll do you well to remember that even if you are staying here under Mr John's recommendations, I won’t hesitate in getting rid of you.” The Director leaned down towards me and whispered, sending a slight chill down my spine.
I nodded my head and watched as she and Miss Dandy retreated back towards the stairs that led to the director's office.
‘Come out of your fly form, let's talk with the twins.’
- - -
“That girl that Mr John brought along, make sure you watch her actions carefully.”
“Director, if I may speak… Section A needs to be taken to the sacrificial site tomorrow night, are you meaning to send Reuben as well or are we to exclude him?” As if my words replayed the way Rein had spoken against her a moment ago she hurled her ink bottle towards me.
‘This senile bitch thinks I’m one of the kids, be glad your so uncoordinated that you missed, if it had hit me I would’ve slit your throat, dragged your dead body to the dungeons and chopped you up to pieces while feeding you to the demonic hounds in the forest. I’m starting to lose my mind, if it weren’t for the money I would’ve checked out a long time ago.’
“This is why I don’t do business with you stupid commoners, all of you are imbeciles, USE your brain! If I have instructed you to take those twats away that means I want them to be disposed of. Yes, you take him with you, I’m sure they will love a noble child.”
“Understood…” I spat roughly.
“If Count Pios’s messenger comes for those two, let them know we took care of them as we do not keep goods for free, does he think we’re a charity service? Make sure to kick some sense into them. Oh and get me more ink.” She spoke returning to the facade that she always wore, I simply nodded wanting to leave the suffocating space as soon as possible.
- - -
‘Whoosh,’ A slight wind blew past us and the Chimera came out of its fly form and into the form of a boy, perhaps similar in age to the twins.
“Rein! Have you lost your mind, how could you talk back to the director like that? Now what are we going to do?” Maybe for the first time, I saw panic rising on Reuben’s face. The thought of his twin being put in danger seemed to be the only thing that made Rein lose grasp on logic and composure, in the past and even now.
“Relax Reuben I’m sure I’ll be just fine.” Replied Rein nonchalantly.
“I don‘t think you should be so relaxed right now, the conditions of the children in Section B is no laughing matter, most of them are either dead or on the brink of death.” The Chimera chimed in with a grim expression.
“Death?!” Rein whipped his head around to face the Chimera with big round eyes, shocked at the new revelation.
“Yes, death… They’re being tortured alive, most of them have large amounts of mana and they’re being forced to create mana stones to the point of death, not to mention the ones that are being experimented on.” The familiar-sounding nightmare made me recall a few things from the past that I had suppressed deep in the back of my mind.
Mana stones are extremely rare and valuable, most came in a dull black colour with the purest mana stone being clear, only one clear mana stone had ever been produced and it was embedded in the Emperor’s crown. Naturally noble’s flocked to the idea of obtaining another clear mana stone for vanity and to show off their status in high society, the dark mage tower that I was locked in, in the past also made children exert all their mana into a crystal until death.
“Rein! Do you see how serious this matter is right now?” Reuben retorted towards Rein once again.
“Chimera… Did you see a symbol of any sort? Or perhaps black aura, anything, did you see anything out of place?” I asked.
“No… I don’t believe I did… Wait, remember how I mentioned that I had been upgraded through your awakening? Here I can show you what I saw.” The Chimera stretched out his palms and a transparent display of his memories played out in front of our very eyes.
“Woah, that's so sick.” At Rein’s casualness, Reuben jabbed him in the ribs and watched the vision eagerly.
What played out was a dark dark basement dimly lit by a few candlesticks stuck sparingly along the walls and endless rows of cells filled with children. At the end of the seemingly endless corridor was an open space with black mana stones strewn across the floor, and a device that was used by mages to extract their mana and create mana stones.
The room wasn’t only dark due to the lack of light but also because the whole room was surrounded by a jet-black aura, the same type that the master dark mage emitted the one time I saw him in the past.
“There, that line of black aura, you guys can see it too right?” I outlined the areas where I saw the black aura.
“Huh? What black aura? We don’t see anything.” Everyone including the Chimera scrunched up their eyes trying to figure out what it was I was pointing towards.