Chapter 6 ∞ Kilahad
I was a little confused—culture-shocked, really. The experience I have with this world was easily a whirlwind of surprises. Not only did I discover that magic and the supernatural was possible in this reality, but the presence of neo-modernity in the midst of such chivalric, if not regressive, ideals was a startling combination. The dress code was contemporary yet medieval all the same too.
I was starting to realize that these people possessed culture and characteristics that would normally be opposing in nature. Or maybe that was just my naïve conclusion. I have only met my mistresses so far and have seen no other place other than the House of Oblivion. I was not well-acquainted with my birth parents, so how do I judge their side of the world?
My adoptive mother Hellenia brought me before an ostentatiously-fashioned building that spoke tones of gothic revivals back in my old world. Yet, in a way, this one was weirdly unique on its own. It possessed the same level of boldness that the others did and relished more colors than its counterpart from my old world. This one had deep, midnight blues trimming its obsidian walls, intricately barred glass windows and rolling scroll patterns on the surface. There were multi-leveled towers that crowned like stalagmites. They stood with hollowed-out walls. Thin columns used to showcase sculpture and images instead of settling for plain, old windows. Rather than the usual stone carving, even so, I saw inlaid glass and other materials. I especially liked the flying buttresses that chained the towers to the main frame. It did not fail to add that impression of unnecessary stability.
Like I said; lavish.
“We’re here,” Hellenia told me, shaking my hand in a bit of excited jiggle as she leaned down and gave me a smile. I was betting she did it more to shake me off from another spell of stupor rather than really tell me we had arrived. My common sense had told me enough to figure out the latter.
Truly, I did not understand why buildings were fashioned the way they were. My knowledge of architecture was inept, even so, which made my opinion truly unnecessary in the subject. My specialty had and would always be language—I had quite the knack for it in my past life. That skill and inclination did not seem to have dulled with my reincarnation. In fact, I had every reason to believe that it had been enhanced.
Hellenia tugged on my short arms and my eyes was diverted to the forming crowd before the building I had just been admiring. My impatience tugged on the tail of my stomach at the thought of having to wait among these people. I hated the claustrophobia of large crowds—much more the noise and chaos they brought. It was already suffocating enough being with more than one other person. I didn’t want to deal with this nonsense.
Yet if my mother were to insist on it, what choice did I have? With a sigh, I stumbled after her.
“Don’t worry, this won’t take long. You will not be taking the test with all these other children,” she told me.
“I won’t?” I asked, a little relieved.
“Of course not. Doing so will take us all day. I still plan on taking you elsewhere afterwards.” She patted my head. “Come on.” She pulled me to the direction of the crowd and I pulled back.
“No,” I said.
“Honey,” she began. “I will have to take you inside. We can’t do this out here.”
I was being a little unreasonable in this regard, but I had a fear of large crowds. A psychologist I had consulted labeled it ‘enochlophobia.’ I had been in a protest before that ended up taking a violent turn. I had not had the confidence of stepping into similar settings since then. And while I mustered to be brave and stifle my irrational fear, I unwillingly tensed up and prepared to run. My hands turned cold and clammy and my stomach was turning in ways it wasn’t supposed to.
“What’s wrong, my dear?” she inquired, kneeling before me. She took my hands into her larger ones, blowing some warmth into them.
I nervously tugged on the fabric of my coat. “I’m scared.”
She sighed. I knew how adult brains turned. She probably was blaming this on the fact that I hadn’t been brought up around a lot of people. “I guess this is too much for you. But I can’t leave you out here alone.”
I looked at the crowd and shook my head. “I’ll be fine.”
“No, Evyionne. I won’t leave you. That’s out of the question. We’ll go about it some way else,” she said.
Hellenia reached up to her hair and pulled back a few strands to reveal her ear. It was adorned with a cuff earring in the shape of a dragon climbing up the shell of her lobe. She ran a finger down its length and I thought I caught the small rubies placed aptly on its eyes glow for a moment.
“We’re outside, Laksa,” she said. “Please meet us here. The crowd is thick up front. We can’t make our way in.” She paused, as though to let him reply. “No. My daughter is uncomfortable. You know how it is.” She then gave a sigh. “Thank you.”
My eyes widened a bit as I watched her speak. Was that some sort of Bluetooth earphones? If it was, then I’d say it’s really stylish to be one.
I continued to watch in awe until she ran up a finger on her lobes once more—the opposite direction from before. She then turned to me and said, “It’s alright. My friend will meet us here instead.”
“What’s that, mother?” I inquired.
“Which one? Oh.” She reached up to dragon around her ear and smiled. “It’s a communicator. I haven’t shown you one before since this is a new model from an old bracelet version.”
“How does it work?” I asked in wonder.
“Ah. I don’t know much but it’s installed with a stone that connects to the unique frequency of its wearer. That innate frequency serves as a unique identifier of some sort that allows you to contact that person privately and provide a form of long-distance communication.”
“Up there!” I heard a yell.
My eyes were drawn to the top of the building as a flying beast briefly perched on top of a pointed tower. Another one came close behind it and it turned to face its pursuer before gearing for an attack. Its large wings furled and the long neck seemed to inflate. The sky was suddenly bathed in red as fire spewed out from its mouth.
“Holy—” I began in standard English, stumbling back in shock. At first, I thought the fire would stay in that particular trajectory. However, I didn’t expect the beast to also throw up a couple of molten debris which started raining down like a meteor shower.
“Evyionne,” my adoptive mother pulled me close, holding up her sleeved hand to shield the both of us—as if that would really do anything.
Contrary to the instinct of closing one’s eyes and waiting for the impact to come, I kept mine wide open. Were it not for my mother shielding me, I would’ve seen everything much more clearly. I did freeze up like a deer in the headlights, watching as the bright flames thundered down from above.
A man suddenly spiraled down from the sky and held up a shield that flared with a wave of energy that formed a transparent barrier around us. I knew it was there—I could feel it. The debris struck down a split second later, crashing on top of the shield and breaking up into pieces. The impact was no joke. It forced the man on his knees and the air around us to stir.
Hellenia wrapped her arms around me and pull the both of us into a cocoon on the ground.
It was only moments later when the blinding lights and loud walloping halted did my mother dare to look up and make way for me to breathe. I hadn’t seen the latter part of it all with her covering my head.
“Wrap this up quickly!” the man yelled. “This can’t go on any longer!”
My mother Hellenia looked up as rock pieces fell around us like a spilled sack of torched coals. My jaw had slackened at the turn of events, panic leaving every single hair on my body from neck down standing to their very tips.
“I’m sorry, madam.” Our savior lowered the shield, leaving the bright sun striking at the blond hair and glowing, moon silver eyes. “I hope you and your child are alright.”
I looked up at the raging beast at the top of the building and found it suddenly bound by glowing chains. Within moments, a whole squad of flying…things appeared and airlifted the thing the hell away. It was a little funny, actually. The raging creature was too strong it was tugging on the others from above—like pumping and pulling down on the strings of balloons only to have them persistently float back up.
But seeing as this wasn’t quite the right situation to smile in, I refrained.
My mother nodded at the man and lifted me to my unreliable, jelly-turned legs. When she realized I couldn’t stand, she held me steady until I could properly support myself. “Are you alright, Evyionne?” she inquired, falling to her knees before me and looking me straight in the eye. “Are you hurt anywhere?”
“I’m alright . . .” I whispered and looked at the man before us. His shield was a sterling silver, possessing similar azure blue scroll patterns I’d seen on the glass walls of the Glass Palace. As he held it against his chest, I realized the scroll-like patterns actually took the shape of a dragon.
Oh. So that’s what it was.
“Does she need medical attention?” the man inquired.
“No—we’re fine. Thank you, Lei—” Hellenia stopped short, eyes widening. I looked at her as confusion and embarrassment pulled on her flustered face. “We’re fine. Come on, Evyionne.”
I caught the man quirk a questioning brow as my adoptive mother dragged me away. As I stumbled after Hellenia, I looked back and over my shoulder to see a small smile lift the corners of his lips. ‘Lei-something person,’ then turned away and blew a sharp whistle. A large bird flew overhead and he reached up to grab its claws. As he was carried away, I saw the bird toss him high up in the air and catch him perfectly on its back.
“Awesome, awesome,” I said. This world of fire-breathing beasts and magical shields had gotten interesting. I never thought I would ever get to see something out of a fantasy novel! What would my best friend say about this? “Mama, what are they?” I asked.
My mother was quiet. I looked at her questioningly and tugged on her arm.
“Mama, are you alright?”
“Yes, I am,” she replied blankly. “Never mind, darling. I’m just glad you’re fine.”
I doubted it. “Do you know that man?” I inquired.
She didn’t try to hide it and nodded instead. “Yes.”
I nodded too. I figured she knew him—a client maybe. “He definitely recognized you too,” I said with a tilt of my brows.
She gave me a flustered stare and seemed to caught on that I caught on. “Do you think that? This is what I’m trying to avoid…I can’t be recognized out here. It won’t be good for the both of us.”
“Is he a bad person?”
“Leiran?” she asked. “Not really. Of all the clients I’ve entertained over the years, I believe he’s one of the most righteous and courteous. And almost all of the guests have very good manners. He’s a man of honor.”
“I do understand how the House can incur a lot of ire and controversy,” I told her with a knowing nod.
“My little person talks like a little adult,” she said and chuckled, squeezing my cheek.
“Ow, mama, please don’t.” I looked up with a little frown.
Hellenia gave a sweeping stare across my face and caressed my chin. A knot of worry appeared between her brows and she pulled me close to her side, fingers firmly grasping my shoulders as though afraid to let me go.
“Come on, now.”