As I stepped into the shower, the week that had just passed flooded out of my mind. The warm water washed away the feeling that at any moment all hell could break loose and replaced it with the feeling of a calm, yet restless environment. I just stood in the water, letting it wash over me. The tranquility set my mind and body at ease. I stood facing the inner wall with the gentle pressure falling onto my shoulders. Eventually, the water turned cold, and with the heat; my perception of reality left as well.
"Are you listening to me? Hello, Blush? Helloooo?" Someone was talking to me.
"What?" I responded to the annoying voice in my ear.
"Are you planning on sleeping all day?" I felt a pair of arms under my own attempt to lift me up. "Come on. You're too heavy for me to move on my own."
"That's a lie. Go on without me, I'm taking a nap." The sound of a hand slamming down on my desk came less than a second after finishing that sentence. It startled me enough for me to sit up. It was Maria, my best friend, and the only person bold enough to give an honest try at waking me up. She was close to my face which made me jump in my seat. "May, what do you want?" May was her nickname. She's a sweet girl who likes to be friendly with everyone as long as the first thing they ask her about isn't the black eye-patch on her left eye. She was always sensitive about that.
"I want you to join an after-school club or activity. You're coming with me and I won't take no for an answer." I looked up at her and was about to make up an excuse when someone else started talking.
"May, don't bother with her. She'll just find an excuse to go home and flake on us again." It was Rosarie. Her, May and I were best friends before high school when we had a falling out. I couldn't remember why but, It kept going since just before the school year. She also had a habit of calling everyone "Mis" and "Mister" regardless of age. Everyone aside for those she considers friends.
"What do you mean 'flake on us again'? You don't even deserve an Irish goodbye."
"Har, har, har. The Irish girl that doesn't deserve an Irish goodbye? Don't make me laugh."
"Come to think about it, aren't you Scottish?"
"Mis Hamlett, you don't even seem to know what I am."
"Aww, this is the first time you two talked in like a month. Does that mean that the Super Star Squad is back on?" May intervened. We used to call ourselves the Super Star Squad because of our distinct hair colors. Rosarie was a deep redhead, May was bright blonde and my hair was pitch black. We each identified as a star and even took it far enough to have a mantra.
"You know what? We can settle this right now." I had gotten up after noticing that the classroom was empty except for us three.
"Blush, you're jumping the gun." May's warning landed on deaf ears.
"And how do you suppose we do that?" Responded Rosarie.
"You too?" said May.
"Same as always; we wrestle. The first one on the ground loses. If I win, you shut up for the rest of the day- no, a week as long as you're around me except those few times where you actually need to say something." After enough scuffles with other people, we both realized that if we fought with each other, there would be no end, so the one hitting the ground first rule was decided on to mitigate that possibility.
"You guys don't need to do this." May was still voicing her opinion.
"Then, If I win, you go a day- no, a week without your precious earmuffs. That goes for your headphones too." She knew my weakness as well as anyone. I was always very sensitive about my ears. They come to an unnatural point at the end, so I always hid them in a pair of blue earmuffs or headphones. Whenever they were uncovered in public, I'd turn red in embarrassment. That's how I got the nickname "Blush".
"You got yourself a deal." We moved the desks around and made sure the door was locked so that we couldn't be interrupted. "Are you ready to lose?"
"Please stop," May interjected again.
"That's my line." Said Rosarie, ignoring May as much as I was. We were on opposite sides of the room, ready to run at each other.
"You guys are making me mad." We both heard her and didn't heed her warning.
"Three, two, one, go," We said, at the same time before rushing to grapple with each other. As soon as we made contact, we both fell to the ground. We were pushed over by May and she was on top of us.
"Hey, what was that for-." I started before getting cut off.
"You both lose." She stood up and held out her hand. "Earmuffs."
"Now." She was mad. It would be difficult, to say the least, to make someone like May mad but we succeeded.
"Ok... Here you go." I took them off and handed them to her.
"They're in my jacket pocket." She reached into my black jean pocket and took out my headphones.
"What are you gonna do with them?" I asked.
"I'm keeping them," she said, storing them carefully in her purse.
"You lost, remember?"
"She told you-," Started Rosarie before also getting cut off.
"Shh! Not unless spoken to. By me. You lost too."
"Shh!" Rosarie looked down on herself, ashamed.
"She sure told you- Oww!" May grabbed me by my left ear. "That actually hurts you know." I reached for her hand to pull it away.
"If you pull, It gets worse." I didn't contest her. "You'll get your stuff back when we're done finding you something to do after school instead of you just taking naps in the classroom to make everyone think you're doing something. I care about your future and to hell, if you don't."
"Heh, heh- Ow!" Rosarie started laughing and was shut up with a pinch to the cheek.
"I'm sick of you two fighting and bickering all the time. You're supposed to be friends, so act like it."
"No, I don't like being forced to socialize with people like her," I said, folding my arms.
"For once, I agree," Confirmed Rosarie.
"If you don't get along right now." May leaned in towards the ear she was holding. "I'll do that thing you don't like." Her whispering in my ear alone was enough to send bad shivers down my spine. "And you." She leaned in and whispered something to Rosarie that made her straighten up and shake her head involuntarily. "Do I make myself clear to you two?"
"Yes, mom," I responded.
"Rose?" She looked at Rosarie.
"It's hard to argue with sound logic like that." Responded Rosarie
"Now, stand up and hug, got it?" We were both sitting on the floor until she let us go. We stood up, facing each other. "Better yet, shake hands. I don't trust either of you two with a hug yet." We reluctantly shook hands and followed May out of the classroom and down to the old gym. The old gym was a hub for many after-school sports activities. It was also where other clubs advertised themselves. The gym was more than large enough for at least four different clubs to use at once. There were also dividers set up to split the gym evenly and prevent squabbles. They never really worked. "So Blush, see anything you like?"
"Don't be like that. How about ballet?"
"You made me try ballet last time and I didn't like it, remember?"
"No, last time, you flaked on us." She came close to my face. "Remember? And don't try that 'I had something to do at home' excuse. I checked with your mom."
"Hey, how are you just gonna go all the way to the top of me like that?"
"Stop flaking and I won't have to." She nearly stomped her foot. "Ok, how about we start by ruling out anything you don't like."
"I don't like anything that involves physical activity or thinking," I said, knowing that most of the clubs involved those exact two things.
"Ok, how about the music club, anime club, or book club?"
"Book club still requires thinking."
"Not that kind of thinking."
"Touche," I said, after a moment of reflection. "Besides, If I wanted to listen to music, I'd do it at home. Same for reading, and have you ever heard of a weabu?"
"No, what is that?"
"I don't know but, it sounds like a derogatory term for people who watch anime and I don't want something else for people to call me." I knew what the term meant and that I didn't describe me in the least but I was hoping the mention of a derogatory term would persuade her.
"But, don't you watch anime?" She asked, innocently.
"You're a weabu." I clearly heard it from Rosarie. I was a split second from turning and decking her in the face.
"Rose!" I hadn't heard May yell in a long time and it scared me. We both jumped. "What did I say in the classroom?"
"Not to speak unless you speak to me..."
"Right so, apologize to Blush."
"Do I have to?"
"Sorry, Ms. Hamlett."
"Is that how you address your friends?"
"How's it feel to be bossed around?" I immediately regretted saying that.
"Now, Morgan." The only time she'd call me by my first name is when she was serious.
"Yes, ma'am?" I took a half step back.
"You know I love you, right?" I tried to take another step back, but she caught me in a hug.
"Yeah so, can you let me go?" I knew what she was going to do and it was too late to stop it. She had my arms pinned to my sides and the position was locked in.
"No. You know, I'm trying to help you and you keep fighting me on this. It seems like you need all the tuff love I can give." While saying this, she lifted me up off of the ground and squeezed. "Now, pick a club or I'm just gonna drag you kicking and screaming to ballet with me."
"Ok, I'll be a weeb and join the anime club now, will you put me down? This hurts." She let up and stopped squeezing, but didn't put me down.
"Hey, Mighty Mouse." Someone familiar-sounding came walking up. "I thought I heard a commotion. What are you doing here? I thought you had ballet."
"I'm not going today. I'm helping Blush find something to do after school, whether she likes it or not," Responded May.
"Blush? Oh, Morgan." He moved where I could see him. "What did you do to piss off Maria that bad?" He was a little taller than me with blue-dyed spiky hair and dark eyes in fencing gear. His name was Nile and even though they never really acted like a couple, he and May were definitely into each other.
"It wasn't just me. Help."
"Sorry, no can do. It seems like you made your bed in this one."
"If you're not gonna help then, piss off- uh." I was squeezed again for a second. "Sorry."
"Man, you really stepped into it this time, huh?" He looked over at Rosarie. "And why do you have such a long face." She gestured to her throat to communicate that she couldn't speak. "Why can't you talk?" She pointed at me and May. "Morgan, what did you do?"
"No, I said she couldn't talk," Said May, sweetly. "They were fighting again and I intervened this time. Isn't that right, Rose?" She nodded and kept silent. "They hurt my feelings so they're doing what I say to make it up to me. Isn't that right, Blush?"
"I mean, you're kinda forcing me to- oww you're making my elbows dig into my sides. Why are you so strong anyway?"
"Because I do ballet. I have to pick up heavier girls than you."
"I see you took off those earmuffs." Said Nile, rubbing my head. In less than a second, my teeth were bared and his hand was in my crosshairs. With a quick move from May, He just narrowly avoided missing a glove and a finger.
"Now, Blush, what did I say back in the classroom?"
"You only said that I had to get along with her," I said, leaning my head towards Rosarie.
"Ok, you asked for it. Gimme that ear." She released one arm to grab at my ear. I took that chance to escape. I purposely hadn't been squirming up till that point just in case. I quickly wriggled out of her grasp and made way toward the door. Rosarie tried to block it, but she was too late. I was past her before she knew what was happening. I stopped in my tracks after the door closed behind me. I didn't have my earmuffs or headphones and I wasn't sure exactly what would happen if May caught me. That girl really doesn't know her strength so I had no choice but to hide in the classroom. When they found me, I was sniffling while covering my ears in the corner. I wasn't crying up till then but, when I heard the two of their voices entering the room, I started.
"Blush, is that you?" Cooed May, carefully shifting toward me. I slowly nodded my head. "Were you crying?" I shook my head. "Did I scare you that much?" I nodded. "I'm sorry, I'm not mad at you ok?" I nodded again. "I shouldn't have gotten so mad at you two, to begin with. It's just that when I see you two fighting, it gets to me, you know?" I nodded again. "I just want things to go back to the way they used to be. When you two were friendly with each other and not at each other's throats." She gave me an earnest hug. "Come on. Let's just hang out today. Just the three of us."
"Alright, I get it," I said, getting up. "I'm not some fragile snowflake. I didn't mean to act like one and you know I hate being treated like one. It's just that my ear still really hurts." I showed them my ear.
"Oh, I'm really sorry. It's all red and swollen. Here's your earmuffs back and your headphones."
"I can't wear either one anyway because it would make my ear hurt more." I put them both in my bookbag. "Now, how am I supposed to go home?"
"Let me see." Rosarie was the last one I expected to say something. She moved behind me, took out my butterfly hair clip, and gently patted what was a loose ponytail down over my ears. "You look totally different now but, at least, your ears won't show. Mostly."
"Are you trying to be friendly?" I asked, vaguely unsure of the answer.
"I thought a little goodwill would go a long way. Honestly, I don't remember why we started fighting to begin with."
"I know why," Said May. "I pay close attention to you two. The reason why you two started fighting is that; Rose, you were always the posh and bossy type and Bluh; you were always a rebellious tomboy with a stark dislike for rules and those who enforce them. You two always countered each other and I was always the mediator detective there to spit facts and put you both in your place. Somewhere along the line, you two became more at odds than before and I wasn't there to mediate as much."
"You make it sound like a T.V show," I said, hugging her tightly. "It's not your fault, trust me, It's ours. You shouldn't have to mediate between us, anyway."
"It's true," Confirmed Rosarie, hugging the both of us. "If I knew I had a flaw like that, I'd have worked to change that and I'm sure Blush would have as well."
"I agree but, when you put it that way, it sounds like it might be your fault for not letting us know our flaws when you thought it might be ruining our friendship." I continued.
"Does that mean that our friendship can set sail?" Asked May.
"I'm the red star, blazing across distant seas." Started Rosarie.
"I'm the bright sun, twirling in every horizon!" Continued May, excitedly.
"And I'm-" I started, subconsciously. With me being so used to saying it, the words came out on their own. The other two looked at me knowingly, and I continued. "The void of twilight, mystifying mortals in the night."
"And together we're the Super Star Squad!" We cheered together.
"So, where are we hanging out today?" I asked.
"Follow us, we'll take you to a secret place I have in mind," said May.
"May, you can't just decide that it's against the rules." Complained Rosarie.
"Screw the rules. That's your bossiness getting ahead of you," I said, "So, where is it?"
"It's a secret, so you'll just have to follow us to find out." Responded May.
"Are you sure that's a good idea? There's a reason she wasn't picked." Rosarie whispered to May. We were already walking outside and down one of the few deserted streets in the neighborhood. All of the houses were boarded up or in complete shambles. May told me to stay around fifteen feet behind them until we got to our destination.
"I can hear you, you know," I spoke up.
"It'll be ok." Responded May, giving me a thumbs-up behind her back.
"But what if it's not?" Continued Rose.
"Then, she'll be my responsibility."
"More like our responsibility."
"I see we're in agreement then."
"Whatever." She sighed. About halfway down the block, they took a turn towards the back yard of one of the houses. Suddenly, a quick breeze whipped by and I scrambled to cover my ears. In doing so, I lost sight of the two. Continuing towards the house they went behind, I got a strong feeling that I shouldn't have been there. The feeling made me stop and reconsider if I was going the right way. Looking around, the house was the same but, I saw no back door or any entrance in general. None boarded up or makeshift. It was definitely strange. I was literally fifteen feet behind them and they were gone. I began looking around and touching the outside of the house. I came to a spot in the middle next to an old firehose. The same feeling from before struck through me and I backed off.
"Stay out," I said impulsively. It was like the feeling itself had a scripture or a written form and I 'read' it if you will. Getting closer, The feeling got stronger and my ears started feeling hot. I touched the wall and they started burning up. I felt like I was just hit with a bad fever. It scared me and the more scared I got, the hotter my ears felt, and the more I wanted to know why I was feeling that way. "Stop," I said aloud and the sound of glass breaking came from in front of me. A doorway sized portion of the wall was gone and replaced by a set of stairs. The negative feeling went away but not the burning of my ears. It actually felt kind of soothing and made the pain I was still in less noticeable. I followed the stairs down and was greeted by voices down a surprisingly clean hallway. The stairs and floor were both light blue and the walls were stone-grey. There were at least five brown doors on each side of the hall leading to a blue one at the end. Creeping toward the only off-color door, the voices became clearer.
"It doesn't matter. You can't just bring her here because she's your friend." It was Nile's voice. "Though, It's not like I didn't see this coming."
"But she might be able to do something. Even if it's not much." This time, it was May's voice.
"That's not the point. She has problems with authority." He responded. "We can't afford someone like that."
"He has a point." There was a new voice. If it was who I thought it was, I was going to punch him in the face. He had the same authority problem that I had.
"You said that the only qualifier was outstanding natural abilities. You of all people should know what she's capable of." Of all people, Rose was standing up for me.
"True, but she's not the type to take orders or follow rules. How are we supposed to keep her from becoming a liability?" he replied.
"Easy." said May, "She listens to me."
"Fine, she's both of your responsibilities then," Said Niles.
"Why me too?" asked Rose, as if she didn't already expect it.
"Two pairs of eyes are better than one. Especially on her."
"Does that mean that I can be a part of whatever this is?" I said, opening the door and stepping into the room. The walls and the floor were the same as the hallway except for the carpet, dartboard, multiple different seats, and tables.
"How did she get in here?" Whispered the boy hiding behind a door frame to the left at the other side of the room. It was exactly who I thought it was. His name was Mikael. A cousin on my dad's side. I'd recognize that pale complexion and blue eyes anywhere.
"I saw you go over there dumbass!" I called him. "I also heard you bad-mouthing me."
"Blush, your ears." May's eyes widened and seemingly glazed over. "They're on fire."
"They feel like they're on fire- wait, you can still see them?"
"It's hard not to." Rose pulled out a hand mirror. "Look." My ears were surrounded in flames and my hair was constantly flowing back even though there was no wind.
"That's really cool," I said, watching as my hair and the flickering flames went different directions based on how I moved my head.
"Hey, Morgan," Niles called to me and I looked up at him. "Catch." He tossed a wooden sword at me and I caught it. "There's a button on the handle. Stay clear of the edge, press it, and concentrate. The flames should go away." He lifted himself off of the blue sofa in which he sat and began walking toward the same exit that Mikael took. "You can use that for now." I pressed the button and a blade extended out of what I thought was a blunt edge. It's weight increased as well. It came from weighing about as much as a stick to as much as a steel pole. It nearly tipped me over but, I just barely held onto it. The silver blade turned red and my ears stopped feeling so hot. "Oh yeah, and welcome to the Fury Hunter's Guild. Your new guardians will fill you in on everything." He stepped out of the door and left me with May, Rose, and a million questions.
"What exactly is this?" I asked, more confused than I've been in my life.
"It's quite simple, really," May struck a pose with the peace sign. "You're a magical girl now."
A moment passed before I responded, "No. Superhero sounds better."
"What's the difference?" Rose was visibly confused.
"I don't think this is the power of friendship."
"But this is magic." May held her hand out and a small green vortex was rotating on her palm.
"Whoa. Can I do that?" I cupped my hands together and concentrated to no effect.
"Sure. When you can control your flaming ears on your own." Closing her hand and making the vortex disappear, May stepped through the door I entered through. "Follow me."
I followed her with Rose close behind. We entered the middle door on the right. Down a short hallway was something that couldn't be mistaken as anything else other than an armory. On the walls were racks of wooden swords, batons, walking sticks, and gloves. Far in the back were more specialized items like a pair of nunchucks, shin guards, and ;for some reason; an acoustic guitar.
May went to the left and picked out a thick, oak, walking stick. Rose went to the right and pulled a black and purple-tinted baton from lower down.
"This is Mimosa." May showed me the walking stick. It was a little over elbow height and smooth with the bumps and curves of natural wood. I touched it and a faint warmth traveled up my hand to my chest.
"And this is Oroboros." Rose's baton was as long as her forearm and looked like it could extend from a ringed pattern at the end. At a touch, a jolt of electricity met my finger tips.
"It's like fire and electricity," I said, stroking the back of the sword Niles gave me and found no such effect.
"More like nature and gravity." Rose pointed between herself and May. "She's nature and I'm gravity."
"Are those code-names or something?"
"No. It's like how you're fire." May held her stick farther away and it lengthened in three sections before two blades extended from each that came together to form a broadsword. The blades had a slight green tint. "See?"
I touched the side of the blade and it felt like I was feeling a leaf, or more accurately, a blade of grass. I tapped the metallic surface to the response of a soft tink.
"It's like metallic grass."
"Now mine." Rose pointed the end of her baton downward and it extended in a pattern independent of its design to reveal a rapier blade with a hard purple tint.
As my hand neared it, it was like I was being pulled toward it. Touching the flat of the blade made me feel like I would sink into it if I wasn't careful.
"It's like it's pulling me in." Carefully, I retrieved my hand.
"Cool isn't it?" Her rapier folded back into itself and so did May's sword.
"Yeah, but what do you guys do with these weapons? Is there something you fight or something?" I looked between the two. They looked at each other and Rose crossed her arms in a matter-of-fact manner.
"Yeah, about that..." May began looking around as if she hadn't thought that far ahead.
"It'll be easier to just show you but until then, we'll give you a tour of the hideout." Rose took over and showed me around the place.
It was like an underground labyrinth. Most of the doors led to another hallway and the majority of the rooms didn't seem to have a perceivable purpose. Aside from that, there were furnished offices and bedrooms as if many people were meant to work and live there. Large break rooms were dotted between them. There were also exits that led to different parts of the mostly abandoned neighborhood.
A couple of hours pass before we return to where we began.
"And that's the tour. Any questions?" Rose smiled proudly as the lengthy tour came to its end.
"Yeah. What about these weapons?" I motioned to the sword still in my hands.
"I should have known you'd say that." Rose shook her head. "Well, it should be night by now. We'll show you." She headed for the exit with May and I following closely behind.
Upon stepping outside and waiting for my eyes to adjust, it hit me that there really was an underground complex under our feet.
After spinning in a short circle and taking a deep breath I said, "Who'd have thought that all of that was underground."
No less than a second after I said that, a flash of light came from the other side of a nearby garage and what looked like a large black dog or wolf emanating smoke jumped over it and landed before us. It looked around wildly before spotting us and charging straight for me. The black orbs it had for eyes seemed to be looking through me as it picked up speed.
Before long, my instincts kicked in and the back of the wooden sword in my hand was the creature's mouth as it was slammed onto its back.
"What is this thing?" I asked after getting a better look at its slightly amorphous form. There was no response. I took a quick look around and both May and Rose were gone.
I wasn't entirely sure what to do with the snarling creature I had pinned on its back until a loud growl coming was heard from the same direction it came from. Another one was slowly approaching. This one was slightly bigger with visible fangs.
It pounced at me and I backed away, freeing the grounded creature of my sword. Now they were both standing and began to move back and forth as if circling me.
If they attacked me now, what would I do? If I struck one I would be open to the other. If they attacked at once, would I even be able to protect myself? Should I attack first? What happens if I get bitten? Are these creatures alive? Are they magic? My thoughts began to race. The only thing I was sure of was that I wouldn't go down easy.
The larger one pounced again but the smaller one hesitated. I spotted an opening and took my opportunity.
As if my hand was guided, the blade found itself to the other side of the creature's neck. As soon as I realized what I did, I followed through the motion and the smaller one fell also.
I stood, shaking and tensed. All of my senses were sharpened and focused. A strange feeling overtook me from behind and I turned to strike.
"Whoops! That's dangerous." May caught the blade between the tips of her fingers as it was nearing her chest. "Maybe I shouldn't have snuck up on you like that." Rose was close behind her.
"Where were you two?" I said, nearly dropping the sword.
Before she could answer, another voice came from the alley, "Good job." Nile rounded the corner from the garage followed by Mikael. "You took them both out in a single strike and came out unscathed. That's better than anyone could ask for." He seemed proud as if he just taught a pet a new trick.
"So, was this some sort of test?" I asked.
"Yes. Remember that feeling, it'll come in handy."
"So, what are- were those things?" The bodies seemed to evaporate into a black mist before my eyes.
"Your new guardians will answer that." There was a slight rumble in the ground and he was gone followed by Mikael who was gone in a literal flash.
"Maybe I should explain," Said May. "We call them 'shadows' but nobody knows where they come from. They're mysterious creatures that have been around since forever. The only things we know for sure is that they prey on vulnerable humans, that they come out at night, and when they become more powerful once they absorb someone."
"And that's where we come in right?"
"Yeah. We take them out before that can happen and if they happen to absorb someone, it's our job to rescue them."
"How do we do that?"
"Press the button on your sword's handle again." I did as she said and the blade receded into a blunt edge while my ears proceeded to burn again. "We use the blunt form to separate them and the bladed form to kill the shadow."
"Huh... Is that all?" I figured that there would be more to it than that.
"That's the long and short of it." She smiled.
"Ok, next is fieldwork." Rose grabbed my hand and charged into the alley while dragging me behind her.
"Wait, there's one more thing." May handed me a pair of blue earmuffs with a red heart stitched onto each side. "Wear this. It's for your fire ears."
"You knew something like this would happen?" I put them on and the flames extinguished on their own.
"No, I just made this in case you needed a limiter. You see, I've been planning on you joining us for a while."
We both follow Rose down a few blocks, past the main street, and into the park.
"And now we wait." Rose sat on a swing and May followed suit.
"What are we waiting for?" I sat on the third swing beside them.
"When you fought those shadows earlier, didn't you get a sort of creepy feeling? Like somewhere between fear and disgust?"
"Not really. I was more panicked if anything."
"Whenever it happens, you'll know what I mean."
I took her word for it and began swinging. An hour passes. Then another. A third hour passes with nothing happening.
"That's odd," Said May, standing. "Something should have happened by now. There's never much but this is concerning-." She began gagging and sat back down while Rose held her mouth as if she was going to vomit.
"Guys, what's happening?" I stood before falling to my knees. It was as if I was punched in the gut and bashed over my head at once. My head hurt and I was fighting to keep my stomach in place. The feeling lasted only a moment but it felt like an hour. "What the hell was that?" I stood back upright to find that the other two were just as surprised as I was.
"Whatever it is, it's huge." May stood with her stick in its sword form. "And we can't afford to go easy even if there's people in it."
"Agreed." Rose held her rapier with shaking hands.
I pressed the button on the side of the sword handle and the blade slid out.
"Not you, Blush." May was quick to convey her intention. "This is definitely not something a rookie could handle." She began looking in every other direction. "If you see a shadowy creature of any kind, run in the opposite direction. We won't be able to protect you."
"Ok, got it." I retracted the blade.
We traveled in a close formation. Rose took point and May brought up the rear while I was in the center. We took a route that led away from the neighborhoods and closer to the empty open streets, a stretch of old road near what was supposed to be the suburbs that suggested a freeway once passed through.
A sudden gust of wind passed through that nearly lifted me off my feet and a large shadow streaked across the ground at the same time. All of it came from up the road.
"Blush, go home. It should be safe back the way we came." Rose and May took off in the direction of the creature as it bounded through the air.
I did as I was told and ran back the way we came. I took a last look back and ran into something that landed directly in front of me. I bounced back and hit the ground hard. I caught my breath as what was in front of me was a large, black, round, winged creature with a wide mouth and rows of blue teeth. It was easily larger than a car but not as large as whatever flew overhead before.
It jumped at me face first and I rolled out of the way as it buried its face in the concrete with a deafening crunch. It flapped its shadowy wings once, and it lifted from the ground to an upright position with pavement crushed between its jaws.
I stood and triggered the blade. My flight-or-fight was in full effect and I was fighting. I ran at it ready to strike but before I could get close enough to hit it; it flapped its wings, and I was sent flying from the wall of wind it sent at me. Before I knew what was happening, I was on my back and it was hovering above me with its mouth wide open. I only had enough time to scream before it would devour me in less than a bite.
"Are you okay?" A new voice echoed nearby.
I opened my eyes. I didn't realize that I closed them or that I had the sword pointed upward on my chest. "I think so." The person who saved me was in all black with a dog-toothed scythe at his side. The creature was off to the left and the man stood between me and it.
The creature jumped at us, and he swiped it in another direction. His movements were sure and dextrous to an awesome degree.
"How many people do you think are inside that thing?" It took me a moment to realize that he was talking to me.
"I don't know. I'm new to this."
He scoffed at my response. "Then you shouldn't be here." His scythe was suddenly seated behind my neck. "If you plan on fighting while you're that weak, then you're just feeding them. In that case, you should just die."
The creature jumped again, backed by a whirlwind that blew me high into the air. Before I knew it, I was back on the ground in the man's arms and the creature was gone. He dropped me and as soon as I hit the ground, so did the gelatinous body of the creature from the sky as it disintegrated away and the scythe as it landed barely an inch from my head.
"Stay away from the battlefield." He warned while staring into my eyes. His eyes were a deep shade of something like blue or brown and his face was clean and pretty like a girl but, he sounded like no girl.
"Who are you?" With my mind in a fuzz, it took a while to get out, but by the time I asked he had already disappeared into the darkness.
"Blush, are you okay?" May and Rose were coming to what was supposed to be my rescue. "What happened here?"
"His name... I never got his name." I couldn't stop staring in the direction he was before he disappeared. "He was so cool."
"I'm sorry, we should've had you come with us." Rose was visibly frightened as she pulled me to my feet and hugged me. "We heard you scream but were too late to get here. Can you walk?"
"I'm fine." I weakly explained, "A guy in black with a scythe saved me."
"Did the scythe look like it had teeth?" Rose asked while examining a body revealed from within the now disintegrated shadow.
"Yeah. He was all cool and his voice was all gravely but he was so pretty."
"That's the leader of 'Midnight's Lost Children', a guild similar to ours. I think his name was Simon? I heard he was pretty dangerous."
"I want a scythe," I said, looking down at my sword.
May took me sternly by the shoulders. "Blush, listen to me. You're suffering from rescue romance. You can't just fall in love with someone who saved your life once."
"I didn't fall in love with him or anything. I just think he was cool, and I want a scythe, is all. I'll still use a sword- I just kinda want a scythe."
"You haven't stopped smiling since we got here. You know, the creepy smile you always gave that Australian foreign exchange boy last year." She made a valid point.
"I just got my life saved, girl, let me smile." I couldn't help myself. The excitement was too much.
We left the conversation there and returned our weapons to the base before walking home together. My parents were already asleep, and it wasn't long before I was too.
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