CASeries #2: LEGEND
Chapter 5 ♕ Corvan's Familiar
Valeriana and Corvan swam through the sea of bodies as quickly as they could, although, apparently, Corvan soon found it irritating and chose that the roofs of the house were a better route for them to take. He pulled Valeriana with him like a rag doll, never minding that the girl felt as if her arm was being yanked off of its socket. He jumped into the air before landing gracefully on top of a flat-roofed house. Valeriana, however, ended straight on her butt in opposite to Corvan’s elegant landing.
“Can you be gentler when handling a girl? Thoughtless bastard!” she exclaimed, struggling to get on her feet and find her balance. “That freaking hurts!”
“And you call yourself the fifth-ranker?” He huffed.
“I never asked for the title anyway!”
He turned and started running. Valeriana practically tripped on her own foot trying to catch up. “H-hey! Don’t leave without me! You know I can’t keep up with you! Jerk!”
Struggling, Valeriana decided to increase the pace of her jog, watching as Corvan skillfully shot off from his toes and landed on the roof of the next building. Shocked, she stopped just before the roof came to an end as well.
She peered over the tip of where she stood and stared at the dark alley down by the roof of the house she currently stood on. The ground was a far trip, and it wasn’t something Valeriana wanted to take—one certain reason was because it’s one-way.
Taking a deep breath, she looked to the other side and saw Corvan raising a brow at her in challenge. He crossed his arms and just stood casually, aggravating her further. She puffed out her cheeks in frustration before blowing away the stray lock that fell on her nose.
She did a short examination of the place around her, especially the deep fall she would be taking if she ever failed, before taking another deep breath and walking back a few steps. She bent her knees in a running pose before shooting off and jumping over the edge.
Everything seemed to be in slow motion just then as she saw herself hovering over the other side. Corvan looked more than amused at her stupid attempt since instead of landing safely where intended, she ended up clinging to the edge with her arms while screaming.
“Oh my god! I’m gonna die!” she cried, feeling her feet dangle. She wanted the ground under her feet—no doubt it would be on her back or front or wherever she might land on soon.
“Useless, stupid witch,” the first-ranker muttered before he crouched on one knee and stared at the girl with a smirk, seeming to have no intention of helping her out. “You look like someone from a comedy show, you know.”
Valeriana angrily glowered at him. “Don’t . . .” She breathed. “Don’t freaking tell me. I know.”
“Should I help you?” The sadistic grin got even wider the girl wanted to slap it off his face.
“Jerk! Jerk! Jerk!” she screamed. “I freaking hate you! I swear if I get out of this, I’ll kill you!” She began muttering an endless stream of curses under her breath.
“Then I don’t think I should help you.” He stood up.
“Corvan von freaking Vaushna de la goddamned Wylden!” she cried, feet helplessly swinging.
The young lord looked over his shoulder while confidently cocking a brow. “I never knew my name was that long.”
“You get me out of this . . . this . . . right now! Or . . . or I’ll . . .” she trailed off, struggling to keep herself from falling.
“Or you’ll what?” he taunted.
“I’ll . . . tell the whole Twelve you peed your pants!” she threatened.
“Pfft.” He snorted. “You think they’ll believe you?”
“I’ll tell them!” she said. “I swear I’ll tell them!” she repeated desperately.
Her arms were failing her. She began to slide off the edge where she hung. She desperately tightened her grip on the very corner of the flat-roofed house, her heart palpitating at the sight of death’s door.
Slowly, her hold weakened. She desperately clawed on the surface that her nails were chipped, but it was hopeless. She could already feel the wound on her palms reopening, causing blood to make a visible mark on the bandages.
She hissed slightly from the pain, feeling her hold weaken further. “Ah!”
Hands clamped around her arms and pulled her up. The grip was so tight that it hurt but she was grateful for it. She desperately clung to her savior, wrapping her arms around his neck as she was hauled from her ‘dangling show’. Strong fingers gripped her waist, reaching around her lower back. One of her foot slipped on the sides, but her support managed to keep her safe.
First, she was on her knees and the next, she was finally standing.
Breathing heavily, she looked up. “Whew.”
At last she was hanging no more.
That was when she locked gazes with him and realized their position.
His strong arms held her around the waist. It was weird how she started to feel conscious of his presence all of a sudden. The closeness of their faces made her face heat up and for a moment, both of them stared into each other’s eyes with the tip of their noses touching.
“It’s time to go,” he said while breathing heavily.
Corvan then loosened his hold around her waist, turning his back on the girl.
Valeriana stared at his broad shoulders with wide eyes. She flattened her palm just above her chest, willing to calm the erratically beating heart inside her ribcage.
She didn’t know if she was tired or excited from what just happened . . . or if it was something else entirely.
One thing was it felt weird.
“Are you coming or not?” Corvan asked.
Valeriana snapped out of her reverie and reluctantly began to run after the young lord. “Uh—y-yeah!” She started to jog beside him, trying to match his pace. “Thank you, by the way.”
“I can’t say you’re welcome.”
She blew out a sigh in frustration. “Why must you be a jerk?”
On the other hand, she really didn’t understand him.
They continued to travel from above for a few minutes. Valeriana noticed Corvan keeping an eye out for a hooded figure, but nothing seemed to come to sight. The girl continued tripping. This seemed to infuriate Corvan more than Valeriana.
Even so, she could not help being like this. Corvan effortlessly weaved through—whether it was jumping over an overwhelming gap between two buildings, scaling walls and swinging from one place to another, he never seemed to have a problem.
“This is frustrating.” He hissed.
“I know! I’m sorry!” She struggled to find balance from her trembling legs.
“Sorry does not remove the fact that you’re slowing us down!”
“Well, it’s not my fault! I’m not like you people, alright?!” She clenched her fists in anger. She already felt bad enough as it was.
“If you’re going to continue like this the whole way through . . .” Corvan sighed. “It seems I have no other choice.”
Valeriana raised her head from the ground, curious.
“In the name of Arland, revered god of fire,” he started muttering, his eyes fluttering close while he began tracing a knife across his palms which the girl didn’t notice he took out.
Valeriana gasped as she saw blood running down his hands, pushing herself to her feet as quickly as she could. “The heck are you doing?!”
Corvan said nothing and held out his wounded palm, squeezing it hard so that his blood swelled quicker and dropped to the floor they stood on with a sickening plop. “I call upon the mighty beast of flames, guardian of the element of the roaring fire. Heed my plea and appear before me.”
She recognized the familiar words and gaped. “You’re summoning you’re familiar?”
Lessons regarding the relationship of Valemnians with familiars were not foreign. The concept was taught in class, specifically her Power Control. Everyone possessed the ability to call upon a beast that matched the amount of raw power they had.
She might have been weaker compared to their athletic prowess, but she was educated enough that she wouldn’t be taken as a fool.
It was a rare occurrence for her though. She hadn’t seen anyone summon their familiars. They had yet to make a contract with their corresponding partners for they weren’t in the proper year to do it as of yet. Summoning a familiar and establishing a contract needed a lot of time and preparation. One could only form a contract once during their entire life, so mistakes were something they couldn’t afford.
Familiars were used as a last resort in fights. They weren’t normally used in the earlier stages of a battle. One could consider them the strongest card of a person seeing as they bring the greatest potential out of their masters, but, as a price to pay, they drain much of their energy afterwards, leaving the user in a vulnerable state.
“I thought only fourth years were allowed to form a contract with familiars,” she muttered. “Why the hell do you have one?”
He smirked. “I do things in my own pace.”
“Alright. I get it.” Valeriana huffed. “You’re awesome, you’re great, yadah, yadah, yadah.” She rolled her eyes.
From where the drops of his blood landed, a fire appeared and started to burn wildly. The loud crackling and roaring made the fifth-ranker jump back. Valeriana felt a stir in her surroundings. She shielded her ears from the bone-chilling sound, knowing that this fire wasn’t at all ordinary. Its flames were hotter and it burned brighter. This fire was blue.
The flames then parted like doors and paws stepped out. Valeriana’s eyes widened as big as saucers as a majestic beast in form of a lion appeared.
She couldn’t hold back a gasp as she slowly brought her hands down to her side.
She never saw a lion with plumed white wings attached on its back. The hair that grew around its neck looked fluffier than anything with fur she ever laid her eyes on, and the twin tails that twitched behind it was even more unusual.
What was more shocking was that it had the color of pure, white snow. The blue fire reflected off of its piercing eyes and it stared straight at Valeriana, holding her in place.
“Wow,” she whispered as the flames vanished.
“Avaro,” Corvan said, and the beast turned to look at him with grace and regality. “Please carry Valeriana on your back. She’s slowing me down.” He then took a handkerchief from his pocket and started wiping away the blood that stained his hands.
“You didn’t really have to put it that way!” She scowled.
The beast craned its neck and gazed at the girl with its burning blue eyes. He then made his way towards her, maintaining the stare. Valeriana looked back, captivated.
Her fingers twitched as her muscles registered the urge to pet the beast on the nose. She wanted to, although she felt hesitant since the air that Avaro carried was heavily intimidating. He oozed with an aura of danger and pure power, glowing like the unearthly beast he was.
Despite it all, she realized that her hand was already making its way to the beast’s head. Avaro didn’t seem to mind and instead closed his eyes, positioning himself right under Valeriana’s fingers.
The contact made the fifth-ranker squeal as soft and warm fur brushed the smooth skin of the palm of her good hand—seeing as the other was still wrapped in bandages and stung like hell every time she tried to move it. This show of closeness and the fact that Avaro seemed to trust the girl made Corvan raise a brow.
“Odd,” he murmured, wrapping the handkerchief around his wounded hand. He tightly bound it with the piece of cloth. “He usually never acts like this around other people than me. I never expected him to acquiesce to my request easily.”
Despite this, she continued to stroke the beast, her fingers weaving through his soft coat before reaching behind his ears. Avaro purred, a throaty rumble echoing inside his chest and sending a wave of vibration that lightly shook his fur.
“I never really liked cats but . . .” Valeriana trailed off. “You’re beautiful.”
Avaro softly growled in response. “This one is flattered.”
Valeriana looked up from the beast to Corvan. “Did you say anything?”
Corvan gave her an inquiring look. “I did not.”
The beast opened its eyes and eyed the girl. “Lheuim ansur, ‘tis I.”
Valeriana glanced between the lion and its master in confusion. “Lum what?”
Corvan’s brows furrowed. “You can hear him.”
“You mean . . .” She stared at the winged lion in shock. “Holy mother of all cows! You can talk! This is awesome!” Excitement bubbled in her stomach. Though she could hear him talking, she couldn’t see him actually opening his mouth to talk.
“It seems the girl possess ability to hear this one’s words.” Avaro turned to Corvan. “Thou hast found a rare child, heilm juaire.”
“Heilm juaire. He speaks the Ancient Language,” Corvan said. “The original language of Valemnia. It is odd how you can hear him, nonetheless.”
“So what if I can? You can too.”
“It does not work that way.” He sighed. “Like I expect someone like you to understand.”
He didn’t sound like he was teasing. In fact, that dead seriousness he had coating his voice did a great job on grating the girl’s nerves.
“Hey! Stop underestimating my intelligence! I may not be the best in keeping up with the chase, but I’m NOT stupid!” she roared.
Corvan didn’t look fazed. “Let us discuss this afterwards. I have no desire to linger knowing I’m being left behind because of some stupid witch who cannot keep up.”
“Shut the hell up!”
“Mount, lheuim ansur,” the beast said, offering his back to Valeriana. “That is what heilm juaire wishes.”
“What about Corvan?” she asked, throwing her feet over the beast as she took position just a little behind the spot where his wings were connected to his back.
She felt concerned about him having to slide a knife down his own palm just to summon his familiar. The girl wanted to ask about the wound, but Corvan didn’t seem to need any help at all.
“Heilm juaire can handle himself just fine.”
“What’s Humli-blah Jar-something?” she asked, feeling her tongue twist uncomfortably at the words.
“Heilm juaire,” he repeated. “He is a child of Arland, a child of fire.”
Avaro eyed Corvan as he leaped towards the next roof. He then ruffled his wings before leaping after his contractor, gliding smoothly to the other side. Valeriana could feel the beast’s muscles flexing under her as he flapped his wings once. He landed safely and began to run.
“So child,” Avaro began. “Dost thou know Valemiuer?”
“Valemiuer. Is that the language? I think I heard that word somewhere before.”
“Thou art right,” Avaro said. “Valemiuer. ‘Tis what we call Valemnia’s language. It means ‘Words of the Ancients’.”
“So aside from the Italian and German rubbish about languages, Valemnia has its own language after all?”
Corvan sighed, but found their conversation interesting. Avaro was a beast born even before demons came to be. He was one of the very few immortal beasts that continued to guard the element of fire as one Arland’s guardian beasts, taking the mantle after the drakons and Arlandian dragons were curbed to extinction.
“Art thou aware?” Avaro asked the girl. “The meaning of thy name?”
“What do you mean?”
“Valeriana means to have strong and have hope.”
“Ah yeah, someone told me,” Valeriana said.
“It is also lheuim ansur in Valemiuer.”
“There!” Corvan exclaimed, pointing to where he saw the lord. They saw Charles, who was running a little behind the king’s brother and Tamara herself coming from around a corner. The whole circle started appearing one after another, each from different directions.
The crowd wasn’t as thick as before. The number of people was thinning out as they continued, making it easier to chase Lienhard.
“So we all ended up here after all,” he muttered.
Lord Lienhard ran casually while nibbling on the meatballs Keelan was eating a few moments ago.
“Get back here, Lord Lienhard! You don’t have to right to steal what’s mine!” Keelan roared, zooming past Tamara, then Charles.
His determination looked comical. Valeriana felt amused about how he was running even faster than the rest.
“That child is amusing.”
The beast ruffled his wings and turned to Valeriana, tilting his head to the side lightly as if to remind himself of her presence on his back.
“Hold on tight, child.”
“What are you talking about? Wha—”
“Avaro!” Corvan commanded.
Avaro flexed his wings and spread them open. He leaped into the air and soared.
“Calm down, lheuim ansur,” Avaro told her. “Thou art not going to fall so long as thou holdst on tight.”
“That’s not very comforting at all!”