CASeries #2: LEGEND
Chapter 35 ♕ Attack
It would seem that, to Charles, Marcy’s plan was more trouble than it was worth. However, what pissed the fourth ranker off the most was when everything had already been going the way they should’ve been, only to have someone else step in and ruin everything! Metaphorically speaking, it would be like punching off the chess pieces from the board when you’re already ninety-nine percent done with victory as your finish line!
Yet, it would seem that he would have set aside ‘playing with the demon’ for the moment. Besides, as disappointed as he was for not having finished the ‘game’ with Faolan, he was more than happy to take on a new one.
“Are you really sure that the manor would be under attack? How on earth did you know when you have been trapped in an oubliette for at least a month?” The cobalt blue-eyed lad questioned as he pressed his lips into a thin line in dissatisfaction. Butler as this man was, he did not trust him.
“I have a familiar of my own which deliver me the messages I need from the outside to keep track of all things. Faolan had done a good job of keeping them in place, but I doubt he could do so now—with you being here and all.”
“That’s cool!” Valeriana exclaimed, and Keelan agreed.
“That is hard to imagine . . .” Raziel thoughtfully stated.
Charles sighed as he stared at the people standing behind the older butler, narrowing his eyes at their direction that a few could not help but cower at the gaze he gave. “Alright, then. As of now, I have someone keeping track of the lady-and-servant duo so you won’t have to worry about them.”
“As long as you do not plan to harm them, I will not,” said Marcy firmly.
“We will not harm him so long as he doesn’t harm us. I have different plans for a child like that demon and his brat for a lady.”
“Haha! They make a good pair, don’t they?” Tamara interjected, finding his words funny unlike how he intended for it to be.
“Anyhow, keep in mind that Corvan will not hesitate to use any means to have this problem solved, and since he does, I won’t too. Neither one of us will, you can count on that.” He allowed a second to pass before continuing. “Since this matter concerns this city and this case, we will be more than willing to lend our aid.”
Tamara suddenly shot forward and jumped on Charles. “Yey! We are going to help the old man! I knew I could count on you!”
“Get off! Get. Off!” He pushed the girl off of him and hit her upside the head, rearranging the major hair displacement and wiping away the unnecessary smudgeon his glasses. “Honestly,” he grumbled. “I know for sure that this will be nothing but battle and that sort, so you are more than excited.”
Courtney rolled her eyes. “Obviously.”
“What do you expect?” Tamara grinned at him.
“Yes,” he hissed. “Nothing more I expect from someone who’s all brawn and no brain.”
There was a small twitch below her eye. “What?”
“Isn’t it true? You’re good at nothing else than a fight.” He then dismissed her. “It’s a wonder how you even became one of the Twelve.”
The third ranker frowned at the insult, frustrated. With a huff, she swung her knees forward and landed a blow on his stomach before proceeding to give him a punch on the face. Hard.
“Well, damn you, too!”
The others seemed shocked at the sudden turn of events that they could not help but gawk at the scene. Laz winced as the blows landed on the poor fourth’s body while Valeriana stood stupidly, mouth hanging open. Brindon simply stared and Keelan was . . . well, Keelan.
“And for your information, dumbass, I did get this position through a fight.”
Wait. Did Tamara just . . . snap? The all haha-hehe laughing virus Tamara?
“This is going to be good.” Keelan grumbled through a mouthful of sandwich.
“If you can’t respect me as a comrade, a friend, or anything of those stupid things, then respect me as a person!”
Charles opened his mouth to reply, but shut it close again once he saw the look on Tamara’s face.
She placed a hand on her waist, a crease appearing between her brow and her eyes oddly shimmering with pent-up rage and aggravation. “You may not consider me as worthy or anything of that sort, but that does not give you the right to run your mouth off like that to me all the time! If Corvan’s an idiot devil, then you’re the bigoted demon! You can shove that plan down your throat for all I care! Jerk! I hope you’re happy with your damn life!”
With that, Tamara stormed off from the scene, her wild hair a curtain of flames behind her. Valeriana jumped from where she was and looked back and forth between third and fourth ranker, confused whether she should follow or stay.
”Well,” Laz began chuckling. “About time she did that.”
Charles merely glared at Laz, picking up his glasses from the floor as he massaged his jaw with his other hand. “I have not begun asking why you are here.”
Courtney, surprisingly, turned and eyed Valeriana pointedly. “Go follow her. I’m sure she needs someone.”
Baffled by the suddenness of the proposal, she gaped at Courtney—which she had been doing frequently. The former fifth seemed to be surprising her a lot. “W-why me?”
“I’m not good at comforting people, and those idiots surely are not reliable either. You’re the only other female, so just go.” The other girl rolled her eyes at how stupid Valeriana’s reply was and crossed her arms. The girl wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box, but she should do, at least.
“But I don’t know what to say to her, maybe—”
Courtney stared at Valeriana impatiently. “Just go.”
“Oh, um, okay.”
With that Valeriana jogged after Tamara as Courtney exasperatedly turned to the fourth ranker and gave him a look of disapproval. Laz gave a soft shake of his head and clicked his tongue numerous times as he eyed Charles with his heterochromatic eyes.
“Really, Charles.” Laz said with disappointment in his voice. “I thought you two would somehow work things out, but you’re just so cold. What is with that pride of yours?”
Keelan bobbed his head up and down fervently in agreement.
“What.” Brindon repeated, seeming to agree as well.
“Shut it. I do not wish to hear you speak about this at all.” He growled. “And the absence of one or two of the Twelve is not a big burden, I still have a few people at my disposal.”
”Men.” Courtney huffed.
“Kids.” Marcy said as well.
“Food!” The eleventh happily waved a piece of meatloaf in the air before biting into it.
Laz ignored the others but gave the eleventh ranker a puzzled look. He then breathed a heavy sigh. “You know what? If you continue acting like that, you’ll lose everything before you know it.”
“No matter.” Charles turned away from them. “Now, everyone listen up closely to this. I do not think we have the time to regroup and discuss so we’ll just have to this alone.”
“Yes,” Laz agreed. “Alone.”
His words were ignored.
Valeriana jogged behind Tamara as the latter walked in big strides towards a random direction. The girl wasn’t sure where the both of them were headed, but she had a feeling Tamara didn’t either. It made her wonder why in the world she suddenly snapped like that. Usually, Tamara would not have a problem laughing off Charles’ insults, but now was a bit different.
Well, maybe there were times when a person would be sick of being insulted all the time. Tamara was no exception. Although she laughed and smiled more often than not, she was capable of feeling other emotions, too.
Seeing another side to the other girl made Valeriana somewhat glad but sad at the same time.
Few minutes passed before Tamara decided it was finally far enough and stopped. The redhead then bent her knees and sat on her ankles as her head tipped forward. Her curls fell in curtains around her face and shielded whatever emotion was on them from Valeriana’s sight.
“Tamara?” Valeriana’s voice came out soft as she approached the form of the other girl warily.
“Agh. You shouldn’t have followed.” The third ranker replied, her voice slightly croaking. “I didn’t want anyone seeing me like this.”
“Not laughing. Not smiling.” She groaned. “It’s not me.”
“Everyone is like that sometimes. It’s normal. You can’t be happy all the time.”
“Even humans?” She chuckled before pausing and realizing something. “Oh, right. You aren’t one, too.”
Valeriana crouched beside her. “I’ll just stay with you. You don’t have to tell me anything.”
“Good heavens, this is so annoying.” She grumbled, her face still hidden.
For once, Valeriana fought to shut up and not pry. It was hard to keep quiet when you had a bad habit of running your mouth most of the time. Valeriana was used to being told to keep her words to herself but it was mostly not in her nature to do so.
Well, she could try.
“This nightmare is . . . unending. Why can’t I just wake up? I don’t want this anymore. I’m so tired of being like this.”
Valeriana pursed her lips. She wanted to ask whatever was bothering her but that wouldn’t be a good idea.
Should she speak? Probably not.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?” Tamara asked, peeking at the other girl through the strands of her unruly hair.
“Sorry. I’m not good at comforting people. I usually just end up making them cry more.” She confessed.
“I’m not crying.” She pouted.
“Sure you aren’t.”
“Agh. I hate this. I really hate. Damn.” She then tilted back her head and faced the sky, deciding to scream out her frustrations. “GO TO HELL, BASTARD! I just don’t give a damn about you! I don’t care anymore!”
“Um . . .”
Okay, that was it. She had to know.
“What’s going on between you and Charles?” She curiously queried. “Not to pry or anything. You two just uh . . . well . . .”
Tamara looked at her, tears pricking the corner of her eyes. Her wide, blue gaze drank in the sight of Valeriana confused and awaiting her answer. The redhead then turned away and started cracking up.
“Aha! So you don’t know?”
“No one tells me anything at all unless I ask,” Valeriana replied, the look in her eyes solemn. “I find out about everything on my own, which is what I like.”
“So that’s why. Ahaha!” She kept on laughing until her voice eventually died out and she started sobbing.
Oh, god! Valeriana made her cry!
“Er . . . Tamara . . . Tam—”
“I hate this life. Why couldn’t I have been born normal? I didn’t want to be related to that bastard of all people.” She blubbered. “I mean, his stupid father’s fault is not my fault.”
“I already gave up everything just so I can live normally but he continues to make my life hell for a sin I didn’t commit! I mean, I try to be nice to him! I already proved that I wasn’t interested in the family fortune! I gave up everything! What else does he wants?”
“Wait! Are you saying you’re—”
“You’re an idiot, Valeriana.” Tamara turned to her with a sad smile, her face and eyes turning red.
The look on Valeriana’s face looked suddenly dubious. “I don’t get it. Are you married to him or something?”
Tamara grabbed a nearby twig and hit her on the head. “We’re related! He’s my brother, you idiot! Well—half! God, you’re dense! Why would you even think we’re married? That’s disgusting! That guy? Hmph. No way.”
Valeriana was horrified. “Holy cows! I didn’t know. Really? You aren’t joking, are you? You don’t look alike at all!”
“I take after my mother.” She huffed. “Besides, I wouldn’t want to look like an ass-face like him!”
Charles and Tamara were related by blood? So that was the reason why everything seemed tense between the two! Although they mostly did not look like each other, Valeriana finally noticed one similar feature between the two of them—their eyes. Tamara’s eyes had almost the same shade of blue as the fourth’s.
But really, the two of them as siblings? It was hard to imagine.
“That means you’re a noble, right?”
“Was. I told you I gave that up.”
“I didn’t know you could do that.”
“I’m an illegitimate child, so it’s more than right for me to renounce my rights to the inheritance. Besides, I didn’t want to have anything to do with all those crap of being a lady. I grew up in the streets, I’ll stay in the streets.”
Valeriana stared at Tamara in awestruck wonder. The latter, however, stood up and started composing herself. She wiped off the remaining tears in her eyes and put up the usual smile she had on.
“Well, seems that did the trick.” She then sighed. “It doesn’t matter, I’m sure I won’t see his face after I graduate anyway. Only one more year and I’m done.”
“Oh, you’re in your eighth, right? I almost forgot. But, just like that? You’re going to run away?”
“I tried, you know.” Tamara gravely looked at her. “I tried to do everything to . . . at least come into good terms with him, but he wouldn’t let me. He considers everything I do as against him. Like I’m trying to challenge him all the time. He’s a fool. A big idiot. A bigoted bastard.”
“You did say that.”
“At least Corvan’s not like him. Corvan’s way better than him. At least Corvan treated his older sister better.”
That took her aback. Since when did Corvan have a sister? Heck, she didn’t even know he had a cousin! He rarely talked—scratch that, he never talked about himself or his family, for the matter.
The third sighed. “Valeriana Kerrigan, we may be those fearsome individuals you hear about everyday back in the academy. We may have been given the title of the esteemed, renowned, respected ‘Celestial Twelve’ or ‘Celestial Circle’, but you haven’t even scratched the surface of who we truly are.”
Valeriana reeled back and felt herself getting lost in a train of thought. She might’ve been too harsh on Corvan despite his overbearing attitude. The first-ranker, after all, still was a . . . person. The girl might’ve felt a little bit thrown off by the way he acted all the time, seeing as the young lord had a bad habit of pushing down all her buttons. His temperament and disposition often made her forget that he, as well, had problems of his own.
The fact that Corvan had his own demons to face made him seem more . . . human, as odd as that sounded since he wasn’t actually one. But, what Valeriana meant was, human in a way people normally were. Human in a sense that, setting aside the magical capabilities of a Valemnian, they were vulnerable creatures that were subjected to surviving a harsher version of the society Valeriana grew up in.
The fifth ranker looked up in realization. Perhaps she saw the Twelve differently because they had a different upbringing. They were reared in a world where they had to learn how to fight at an early age, where they were asked to bear heavier responsibilities in order to meet the demands of survival. This world had been suffering for way too long, having to battle against nightmarish creatures that were once their own.
This made her think of them in a different light.
Speaking of Corvan, where was he?
Tamara then brushed back her hair and reverted to her original self. “Well, then, shall we go?”
“Wait a second,” Valeriana told her, bringing herself out of her stupor. Aside from the recent enlightenment she had just been bestowed, another one came. “How in the world are we supposed to get back?”
The third blinked at the other girl before twisting about to look at her surroundings. Sure enough, they were in some place unfamiliar and the trail back was . . . impossible to find. Valeriana and Tamara exchanged glances, both feeling a sudden knot of uncertainty form in their stomachs.
“Why didn’t you keep track of where we’re going?” Tamara questioned, irritated.
“Why didn’t you keep track of where you’re going?” Valeriana bit back.
“I was upset!”
“I was watching you!”
“Whatever.” The third ranker huffed. “There’s no use arguing about stupid things, let’s just try and find our way back already. We’re both to blame anyway.” She then paused, thinking matters over for a few moments. “First things first, should we split up?”
Valeriana shrugged. “Um . . . I don’t know. I’m not sure if I want to be separated.”
Tamara nodded. “That’s probably reasonable. I wouldn’t like that either.” A foreign look washed over the third’s face, almost as though she was deeply contemplating their current dilemma. It wasn’t every day that you see Tamara trying to think.
“How about this—” Tamara stopped short as her eyes widened. “Valeriana, watch out!”
“What?” Valeriana stood stupidly, standing in wonder.
“Idiot!” Tamara leaped forward and pushed the girl down as an arrow whipped overhead.
Tamara rose immediately and reached for her hip where her hands tried patting for something, probably her weapon. “Damn! Where the hell’s my damn weapon?” She growled.
“Tamara! There’s another one!” Valeriana warned, scrambling to stand back up on her feet.
“Agh! Forget it! Iolani!” She whistled.
The said bird materialized in a burst of water at Tamara’s shoulder before spreading its wings to its fullest span and shrieking. The sharp sound that echoed from the familiar’s beak hurt Valeriana’s ears that she cringed, one eye closing briefly as an unthinking response.
Tamara, on the other hand, seemed to have grown used to it already as she did not at all flinch. Instead, the smallest of smirks curved on her lips as a bloodthirsty glimmer flashed from her eyes.
“You guys picked a bad time challenging this person.” Her voice resembled a thrilled growl of anticipation. Her ardent, blue eyes smoldered like twin molten fires the color of hell’s flame, further intensified by the fiery color of the tresses sitting atop her head. “Ah, but, I could use a little fight to vent my anger on a certain someone.”
“Uh . . .” Valeriana was awestruck by the sudden change of demeanor and could not help but stand stupidly in her place. “Wow.”
A bunch of arrows came zooming towards her that Valeriana felt the words dying at her throat at the thought of her comrade getting hit. Even so, she felt that she had to stay still and watch. She kept her eyes on Tamara as the latter’s familiar morphed into a weapon of some sort. It had a glittering silver pommel and an ornate guard—the typical form of a sword with slight modifications. The blade was broader and about as long as Tamara’s upper extremities. It had curved edges and a triangular tip, with a space in the middle that went midway down the blade.
“Okay. That is just so cool,” Valeriana muttered. “So cool it’s colder than Prelurésia.”
In comparison to Tamara’s usual aggressiveness, her fighting style was completely the different. One would normally assume that by the way she usually conducted herself, her methods in battle would be just the same—rash, impulsive, uncaring, and completely impetuous.
She did everything so fast Valeriana didn’t even see her move! The arrows were all suddenly cut in numerous pieces or redirected to another course, but Tamara got out unharmed. Either way, the way she moved was like the element she handled—calm but violent, and sharp.
And the reason why she was called the Scarlet Rose . . .
“Valeriana!” Tamara harshly bellowed. “What in the world are you standing there for? Go and inform the others what’s going on in here!”
“What? But where am I supposed to go?”
“Just go anywhere! Find anyone! I’ll try to buy you some time.”
“Um . . . shouldn’t I stay with you?”
“You can’t help me here!” Tamara said as a shield of ice appeared in front of her, blocking more arrows.
“Oh.” That kinda hurt. “Ok.”
Valeriana looked between the paths she had to choose from and doubted for a few seconds before deciding on a random route. Clumsily, she almost fell over from having tripped on her own feet before eventually getting back on track.
“Agh, I’m the worst.”
A rush of insecurity coursed through Valeriana as she navigated her way through pathways she was unfamiliar with, hoping to see something that would probably be of help to her current dilemma.
She grunted, sniffing as tears stung the corner of her eyes. “Why am I crying at a time like this? I’m such an idiot. I have to find the Twelve. Where are they anyway?” She grumbled.
Valeriana mentally started berating herself for such a . . . setback. It seemed she was causing the Twelve nothing but trouble. They didn’t need her at all. They could do everything themselves. Even though Tamara said to inform the others, she was quite sure they had a way of knowing on their own. And even then, it wouldn’t be too much trouble for them to handle anything that got out of hand. What had she been doing for the past few hours? Sneaking into houses, getting crushed between doors, freeing trapped people from a hole, going to her friends to help them break free when they apparently didn’t need help at all, trying to comfort someone only to make them feel bad all the more, and now this? She couldn’t even help Tamara!
Was she really good for anything at all?
The Twelve didn’t expect much from her and that hurt. It hurt that even though she tried to do her best, it wasn’t enough. What had she been doing to the Twelve when they got to Prelurésia? Or even before they went to Prelurésia? They went through the trouble of looking for her after she got stabbed by a demon because of her stupidity.
“God.” She sank down and fell into a crouch as the thoughts played inside her head—reality dawning on her, its harshness biting, eating, and ripping through her heart . . . one cell at a time.
No. I can’t give up. She told herself, wiping her tears and composing herself. Valeriana stood up, fanned her face and took a deep breath before looking around her. The path she chose to take led to nowhere but a maze of marbles. This obviously didn’t lead back to the manor!
Where was she supposed to go?
“Agghhh.” She stomped her feet one after another—frustrated, anxious, and pressured. “DAMN IT ALL! LIKE DAMN IT ALL!” The girl bellowed. Squeezing her eyes, she grinded her teeth together and clenched her fists shut. “What am I doing? Valeriana Kerrigan, what in the world are you doing? I’m a failure! I’m a—”
Just then, a hand covered her mouth and yanked her back, pinning her against a chest and restraining her movements. A wave of panic coursed through her stomach that she instinctively started kicking and fighting. She threw her feet back and hit a knee before stomping on a foot.
“Agh! Stop it, you troublesome woman! Quit fighting!”
Ah, that voice.
“Corvan!” Valeriana was barely able to contain her excitement that she almost sprung from her feet. “Oh my god, I never thought I’d be so glad to see you!”
“Tch.” His frown further deepened as he allowed the blonde to break free from his hold and took out a handkerchief from one of his pockets casually. He briefly dabbed his palms with it before throwing it at the girl’s face. “Stop crying already.”
Valeriana never felt anything more comforting than his attitude. “That’s not how you treat a distraught lady.”
“Like you can even call yourself one.”
The girl ignored his teasing and blew into handkerchief instead. “Ah . . . Tamara . . . arrows . . . help.”
“Can you stop blowing your nose for a moment and tell me properly?”