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Gothalia Ignatius-Valdis had always been the type of woman, that caused fear amongst a crowd. The type of woman, all Peacekeepers watched very closely even from a young age, with caution and uncertainty in their eyes.
Yes, even they were terrified of her. They heard the stories, they heard the rumours and above all, they’d read the reports of her bloodline. The documentation, that would forever socially exile her.
However, that was often not always the case.
There was one time in her life Gothalia had remembered the warmth of love and acceptance. A time in her life when she wasn’t so alone and a time when everything was how it should be—peaceful and safe. Though, those times seemed so long ago. So distant, that not even Anaphora and L’Eiron could rekindle such dormant memories or forgotten feelings and neither could her cousins.
Even if they were always around, warning her to never go out without them, warning her to be in control of her emotions and above all warning her that her emotions, was what everyone feared. Never mentioning the demon within.
Though, it was those emotions was what protected her and what harmed her.
Even now, as she gazed upon the men surrounding her, she had never felt more anger than she had ever felt than in that moment, as they taunted her, asking her ridiculous questions liked they used to when they were children. “Are you really from the Ignatius clan?” one man asked, she could smell the alcohol on his breath.
Before another queried. “Aren’t you supposed to have blond hair?”
“Why’s your hair black?” They continued to ask her questions before one man with brown hair and hazel eyes grabbed her hair that fell over her shoulder.
“It must be demon hair,” he said, and glanced at his blue-eyed friend. “Her eyes are black, there’s no colour in them and her skin’s darker than ours too.”
Gothalia remained silent. Then yelped when another pulled her hair from the other side. “How dare she wear the insignia of the Ignatius clan and not even look like them? Can you even use fire?” The boy with gold eyes regarded her closely. “I bet ya you can’t. You mustn’t really be an Ignatius. You phoney.”
“Maybe she’s supposed to look like the Valdis demons?” Another announced.
“That’s what everyone else says.” the golden eyed man declared, staring Gothalia down.
“Aren’t you guys getting tired of asking those questions?” Gothalia remarked grabbing the wrist of one man that pulled at her hair. A crowd had formed and among them Peacekeepers watched, some smiled while others ignored the incident entirely. “How old are you lot now anyway. My age? Was it? Surely you’ve developed a brain by now.”
“What did you say?” The man in front of her asked.
His hostile golden eyes peering into hers.
“You heard me.” Gothalia remarked, with a smirk.
Than the blue eyed man hit her hard across the face, forcing her further against the wall. “Don’t you demon scum have any manners? I bet you weren’t taught any. You filthy monster.”
“Takes one to know one, ass-wipe.”
“You bitch! Let’s see you talk back when you’re six feet under.” The golden eyed man declared. He was of the Barak clan and it showed as lightning permeated his fingers and he gripped her by the throat. Electricity shot through her and she screamed in pain. Then another man punched her hard in the face than in the stomach, forcing her to the ground. They continued to kick her while she was down and Gothalia glared back at them. Grabbing the ankle of one man, she muttered,
“Is that all you got? My grandma can hit harder than you.”
“Are you trying to die?” The golden eyed man asked. Then a fist connected with his jaw. Before another one of her attackers was punched in the face. Two men stood protectively before her while her enemies backed away. “Cheap shot,” the man of the Barak clan muttered wiping the blood from his jaw before running his fingers through his golden hair. “But I bet you can’t get another one in.”
“Anton.” Gothalia muttered, then smiled while Maximus dropped beside her and helped her stand. “He’s not worth it.”
“And yet, they get away with hurting you. I’ll kill them.” Then Gothalia peered at the Peacekeepers in the crowd that eyed them carefully and moved to pull out their swords. She gripped his arm.
“We have to go. Remember what Anaphora said.” Her eyes on the Peacekeepers then he followed her gaze. They were waiting for Anton and Maximus to respond, Gothalia gripped his arm tighter. “They’re not worth it.” Then Anton’s dark eyes widened in understanding. “They’re not worth our freedom.”
Then a man dropped something besides Gothalia’s feet. It was a bag, she glanced at it curiously. It was small in size, red and gold than she noticed the coins in it. The man that dropped the pouch at her feet, glanced back at the Peacekeepers. “They stole our money. We’re just getting it back,” he said, as the Peacekeepers approached. Anton and Maximus glanced at each other and with Gothalia backed away. Then men smiled when the Peacekeepers unsheathed their swords and marched towards them.
Anton, Maximus and Gothalia backed away as the Peacekeepers approached. Fear contorted their features and the men laughed. Though, they didn’t utter a word as the Peacekeepers advanced. “Stealing, are we?” the Peacekeeper asked, stopping before Anton who stretched out his arm before Gothalia and Maximus. “That’s a big no-no.”
“We didn’t steal anything,” Anton replied, staring the Peacekeeper down. “They can take back what they’ve planted.” He gestured to the bag on the ground at their feet, filled with coins.
“Anton.” Maximus declared; concern lined his voice.
“Planted?” the blue-eyed man declared, outraged. “We did nothing of the sort.”
Anton’s dark eyes much like Gothalia’s narrowed on the man. He recognised this man. “Are you sure about that Garret?” Anton questioned, eyeing the man. His question caused the Peacekeeper to halt. “Last time I checked that bag has your family crest on it and as if a member of the Valdis clan would ever take money from one of the poorest aristocratic families. We may be demons as you call us, but we do not need to take money from anyone let alone you lot.”
“What did you say?” Garret declared.
“You heard me,” Anton uttered. Eying Garret carefully. “We may be monsters but at the very least we are not thieves and we don’t strike our women.” Garret stumbled back as did his other friends, especially when the Peacekeepers glanced at the men and sheathed their swords.
“I don’t see any crime being committed.” The Peacekeepers said. “So, I don’t see any reason to be here. Move out.” He ordered his other men.
“But they—” Maximus declared.
“—Maximus!” Anton articulated. “We’re leaving.” Then he moved over to Gothalia and took her from Maximus and guided her down the road. Anton glanced behind them once they were further down the road and scrutinised the men that watched them leave. Anton turned around and followed after what was left of his family.
“I wonder what’s taking them so long. I’m getting a little worried.” Anaphora declared, glancing at L’Eiron as she placed the plates on the table beside the cutlery. “It’s getting late.”
L’Eiron glanced up from the book he was reading then glanced out the window observing the arriving sunset. “It is a little late,” L’Eiron declared before closing the book and leaving the table.
“Where are you going?” Anaphora asked. “Are you not hungry?”
“I am. I’m just going to find them. Be back soon.”
Anaphora watched him leave and frowned. “The food’s going to get cold.”
L’Eiron vacated the manor and walked through the barren estate. Then he glanced up and noticed three figures entering the main gate that led to a road that ran back to the main city. Glancing closely, he noticed Maximus carried Gothalia on his back. He ran to them and they glanced up at his approach.
“Is she alright? What happened?” L’Eiron asked as he regarded them, concern etched into his features as he took in Gothalia’s bloodied face. Then fury burned within the pit of his stomach. He marched over to Gothalia and ran his hand over the bruised cheek, tenderly. “Who did this?”
“The members of the Barak clan and their friends.” Anton spat. “Gothalia’s been hurt pretty badly. Do we have any medical supplies?”
“Yes, inside. Anaphora!” L’Eiron called, taking Gothalia from Maximus and rushing up the driveway, the stairs and into the house. Anaphora’s thudding footfalls could be heard in the foyer as she ran down the stairs.
“What’s wrong—!” Then she saw Gothalia’s condition than ran to her, concern and fear stamped upon her features. “What happened?”
“The members of the Barak clan,” Anton answered, his frown deepening.
“I’m fine,” Gothalia managed, the moment everyone started to fuss over her. “It’s just a couple of cuts and bruises. I’ll be fine.” Gothalia climbed to her feet than regretted it in an instant. Her chest ached as did her side.
And she wasn’t too sure if the pain were because of where they’d kicked her or how hard they had. Anaphora glanced at the bruises on her face and her arms. She’d known Gothalia to never bruise easily then realised that the men threw everything behind their attacks. “Disgusting,” L’Eiron muttered regarding Gothalia.
Anaphora didn’t say a word. She too found their behaviour—disgusting.
She was certain the others did as well. Though, they never uttered those words. Instead, they watched Gothalia with concern and regret. She understood, their conflicting emotions and guessed it was because they had left her alone. Then Anaphora frowned,Gothalia should be able to walk around alone without enduring such distress,Anaphora thought as her eyes gently ran over Gothalia’s injuries. “Who did this?” Anaphora asked.
“The members of the Barak clan?”
“She means specifically,” L’Eiron added.
Anton and Maximus glanced at each other. “We don’t know, they never said each other’s names.”
“Gothalia, could you identify these men if we requested for a Peacekeeper?” Anaphora queried, and Gothalia fell silent before Anaphora recognised the anger marring her features and the frown of her lips.
“They were there. They watched.” Both L’Eiron and Anaphora fell silent.
“Than I guess that answers that.” Anaphora replied and helped Gothalia to her feet. “Let’s get you to your room. L’Eiron will call for a physician.” L’Eiron quickly moved from the foyer and further into a house searching for the phone.
“Is there anything we can do?” Anton asked.
“There is,” Anaphora began and led Gothalia away slowly before adding, “Find out who did this.” At those words, both men nodded and exited the manor.
“Why didn’t you tell Anaphora the truth?” Maximus asked, trailing behind Anton. “You do know who one is. Isn’t that enough for us to go on?”
“If Anaphora found out who he was, who knows what she’d do.” Anton declared, deep in thought. “We can't risk anymore controversy. And that’s only her. We’re not even considering what L’Eiron would do.”
“But it’s for Gothalia’s sake.” Maximus avowed, once they were at the gate. His dark eyes much like Anton’s and Gothalia’s lingered over the city below. “I mean, it’s for us too wouldn’t it be?” Anton fell silent. Contemplating his words. Then marched down the road. “Also, why are we walking?”
“I need to think,” Anton replied.
“You can do that in a car.” Maximus articulated, with a furrow of his brow. Stopping he glared after his brother.
“No, we can’t. They’ll recognise the insignia. At least if we walk. We’ll blend in.”
“Fine but you’re buying dinner. I’m starving.” With that Maximus followed Anton down the road and into the outer city districts. It wasn’t until later on that night that Maximus and Anton heard a disturbance outside of a nearby pub. Out of curiosity, they investigated.
“You low-life good for nothing—!” a man shouted, then there was a crack before Maximus and Anton spotted the man thrown across the road. Onlookers from within observed the interaction with curiosity and concern. Maximus and Anton regarded the brunette man with his sheathed sword in hand on the stairs of the pub. The light from the venue shadowed him, making it hard for both Anton and Maximus to discern his features, but Anton knew that stance. The man placed his sheathed sword on his waist and relaxed his stance before walking towards where the man was in the middle of the road.
“What’s going on?” Maximus asked.
“Not sure,” Anton declared and moved closer.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite hear you. What was that?” the man taunted as he stood over the man on the road.
“I said you’re a low-life! All Centurions are! You can’t even rid the world of the Xzandians and the Alastorians and yet you allow men and women to perish for a dying cause. It’s ridiculous! A waste of time and hard-earned taxpayer's money.” Once Anton and Maximus were close enough, they regarded the anger across the other man’s face as he cracked his knuckles. They took in his red and black uniform. The sword at his waist sheathed in black and clipped daggers on his right leg. With his family insignia on his shoulder while the Dragon Core emblem was on his back. Identifying the section, he was a part of. They also recognised he was an aristocrat as such the family insignia was well-known and well-respected.
“I suggest you watch what you say,” the Centurion declared. “Or I might crush you.”
“Go ahead!” the man said. “You aristocratic families are all Regali aren’t you? While the rest of us are expected to be of the Caligati. Or am I wrong? Having you end me here now would prove that I was right. You Centurions aren’t honourable. You’re pathetic. I’m just surprised no one has abandoned their posts and—.”
The Centurion pulled the man by the front of his shirt. His gaze darkened. “—And what? Say it, I dare you because you know what. Civilians who don’t know what they’re talking about, should keep their traps shut. Many of my comrades have fallen so you can keep your freedom. If it weren’t for us—the specialised unit mind you. You’d all be corpses or slaves to the Xzandians. I’d watch where you step because the next person you run into may not be as merciful as me.” Then he threw the man away from him and walkedtowards Anton and Maximus. Both men stepped aside and watched him leave.
Maximus and Anton regarded the insignia on his shoulder and knew immediately who he was even though he was their age, he’d achieved a lot. Enough, that his family was medaled by the Grand Elders and the Royal Family. “That man,” Maximus began. “He’s . . .”
“—I know,” Anton declared. “It’s best we keep out of his way.”
“Run-away why don’t you! You’re all talk and no bite,” the man called out after the Centurion who retreated into the shadows of the silent street. “You’re a coward. A good for nothing low-life just like the rest of your—” The man was cut short by Anton’s fist connecting with his jaw, forcing the man to fall unconscious. The Centurion paused and watched as the man fell.
“Will you give it a rest already.” Anton articulated more annoyed than disgusted, “you’re scaring everyone.” The Centurion turned around and walked over to Anton, passing Maximus who was equally surprised that he had reacted the way he had.
“You didn’t need to do that,” the Centurion said with a kind smile and held out his hand. “But I appreciate the gesture nonetheless.”
“No problem,” Anton declared and took it. Shaking his hand. The Centurion began, “My name’s Danteus Nero-Drausus. Thank you for what you’ve done today, it won’t be forgotten. Unfortunately, he’s been causing me problems all week and I guess I just had enough.” Danteus looked away shamefully. “I know I should be in control at all times but well you heard what he said.”
“I don’t blame you. The mouth on him.” Anton remarked. “This is my younger brother Maximus and I’m Anton.”
“And your family?” Danteus asked respectfully. Both Anton and Maximus shared a worried look. “What? You’re not aristocrats? It’s okay,” he declared, with a gentle laugh. “I won’t judge.” Both Anton shifted and allowed Danteus to have a look at his back. Then Danteus’s eyes widened as he observed the Valdis insignia.
Danteus regarded both men thoughtfully. “We know, we’re monsters. We’ll leave you alone now.” Anton declared sullen and motioned to leave with Maximus following but Danteus stopped them both.
“Did I say you had to leave me alone?” he asked them. His eyes trailed over both men, deep in thought. “I know the stories that surround your family aren’t good but so far you seem—alright.” Danteus’s bright smile caught both men off guard. Then they smiled back at him and glanced at each other. “What brings you guys this way, anyway? Normally, you lot don’t wander far from your estate.”
Anton’s gaze darkened as did Maximus’s and this surprised Danteus as he regarded both men, cautiously. “We’re searching for someone and figured we’d look here, where he’s known to be.”
“And who’s this exactly?”
“Garret Barak.” Maximus chimed in, causing a swift glare from Anton. He cowered a little under his brother’s scathing gaze.
“I know who you’re talking about. I heard he’s a bit of a troublemaker. What did he do this time?” Danteus inquired, then glanced at the man on the ground. “We should probably get out of here before the Peacekeepers find us.”
“Good idea,” Anton declared and with Danteus and Maximus ran down the road and rounded a corner. When they rounded the corner, they glanced back down the road and noticed Peacekeepers regarded the man on the ground. “That was fast.”
“Peacekeepers aren’t like the Police on the surface-world they don’t waste time.” Danteus remarked. “I get the feeling I’m so going to get in trouble.”
“Hey, it was all for a noble cause,” Anton voiced with a smirk, from where he stood beside Danteus as he saw the Peacekeepers. Then he ran down the road while the others followed. They continued to run until they heard a voice call from one of the narrow alleyways in La Volpe Heights.
“Look who it is, demon scum,” a voice called from the shadows.
Anton paused and squinted at the obscurity. Out of the darkness, stepped men armed with swords and short daggers. This stunned Anton and Maximus both of whom were unarmed. Then finally, out of the shadows strode a Centurion who Danteus recognised but was not surprised to see.
“Danteus, what are you doing with these low-lives?” he asked.
“Rufus, my old friend. I thought you were on a mission. It’s a surprise to see you here.” Danteus casually replied.
“Don’t try and dodge the question.” Rufus declared. His brown eyes narrowed on Danteus’s blue ones. “I would like to know what you’re doing with those outsiders.”
“What does it look like?” Danteus replied. “I’m a new friend. Honestly, the fact that you couldn’t see that is rather—sad.”
Rufus laughed. “You? A friend of the Valdis? That’s comical. Stop playing around.”
“Rufus, is that your name?” Anton declared; anger coated his voice. “What a ridiculous name. Where is Garret?”
“How should I know? And what would you want with him?”
Anton cracked his knuckles. “I have a score to settle with that pathetic excuse of a man.”
“Oh, do you now?” Rufus queried. A dark smile contorted his features as he gazed upon Anton. With a snap of his fingers, the other men that stood beside Rufus ran at Anton and Maximus. Anton counted their numbers and stood to fight but Danteus shoved him out of the way as ice shot up from the ground, almost impaling Anton.
“Anton!” Maximus called. Then blocked an attack from the enemy before slipping past the man and elbowing him in the throat.
“Thanks for that,” Anton said, as Danteus helped Anton to his feet.
“No problem,” Danteus declared with a smile. Then he turned to face his attackers with Anton and Maximus. Danteus’s smile grew as the armed men approached. “You know, I’ve been itching for a fight.”
“Oh really?” Rufus declared, from where he stood behind his friends as they attacked. Anton and Maximus fought all eight off though not without a few cuts and scrapes.
“Yeah,” Danteus declared, as the remaining men rushed towards him, and the ground became uneven. Within seconds, he took out his attackers. Then when all the men fell, he glanced at Rufus. “Why don’t you show me what you’ve got?” Small balls of earth hovered in circles over Danteus’s palm as he watched Rufus with a deadly smile.
Rufus glared at the arrogance on Danteus’s face. “You’re dead Danteus.”
Thank you for reading!